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Sharks 2, Golden Knights 1 (OT): Captain Couture wins it

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Tight game ends in the Sharks’ favor

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 29: Mark Stone #61 of the Vegas Golden Knights reacts after being shoulder-checked by Aaron Dell #30 of the San Jose Sharks during the third period at T-Mobile Arena on September 29, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Photo by David Becker/NHLI via Getty Images

The Tomas Hertl-less Sharks headed to Vegas in one of those games that you just get up for. It took extra time to declare a winner and that’s when Logan Couture stepped up for the Sharks.

Couture was gassed at the end of a shift, but couldn’t go off on a change. Marc-Edouard Vlasic tipped the puck out to Couture who was all alone at center ice. He went in on Marc-Andre Fleury and took the shot. Fleury made the initial save, but with the puck sitting right in front of the goaltender, Couture pushed it five-hole and the Sharks won 2-1 in overtime.

More importantly, San Jose has now leapfrogged the Calgary Flames in the standings and sits in sixth in the Pacific Division. The Sharks are tied with the Anaheim Ducks with 23 points and are three points behind the Vegas Golden Knights, who sit in fourth place in the division.

Final note from the game, Aaron Dell really stood tall in net. He made some amazing saves including two huge ones in overtime. Plus, his final save of the game deflected to Vlasic, who passed it to Couture for the game winner.


The San Jose Sharks (10-11-1) could be facing their biggest test of November, and one of their biggest of the season so far with their trip to Sin City to face the very good (despite their substandard record) Vegas Golden Knights (11-9-3) tonight.

The Sharks need a win here, having dropped a sad effort to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday after winning six after losing five. If that recent loss marks the beginning of another streak, they could be entering “all is lost” territory, venturing into the unknown and scary prospect of a lost season. If, however, San Jose can reel of another set of wins through to the end of November, all is found territory is almost definitely much more fun.

That order is quite a bit taller than it might have been yesterday, as the Sharks’ second-most productive player in goals and points, Tomas Hertl, is sitting out tonight with an undisclosed injury. There aren’t many things going right for the Sharks so far today, but Hertl’s absence opens up a slot for the next right thing to emerge: second-line center, Barclay Goodrow, who has a great opportunity tonight to showcase his skills in what has quickly become a breakout early season run for him. If head coach Peter DeBoer can keep a decent grip on the reins of this wobbly sled, the absence of his Rudolph may be causing us to panic more than his proverbial reindeer(s) are.

“Better than people think” is a common refrain applied to more than a few hockey players, but few have had that label applied to them more regularly over the past few years than Logan Couture. The Sharks’ captain has had his share of rocky streaks this year, but he’s been strong lately: Couture leads the team in points with 22, and has recorded two goals and twelve points in his last six games, a pace that’s not likely to sustain for long, but one more night would be nice.

The Knights are trying to build a different kind of streak, having won their last two games after losing the previous five. They haven’t won three games in a row yet this season, but they’ve fared well against the Sharks so far this campaign. The Knights heating up is just what the Sharks don’t need tonight, as the Vegas squad’s last game ended the tenure of the league’s highest paid coach, Mike Babcock. A dominant 4-2 win over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs may have been the confidence the Knights needed to avoid getting lost in the woods this winter, which should intimidate fans of the visiting Sharks. That win tied coach-killer Marc-Andre Fleury with Braden Holtby for the current title of the league’s winning-est netminder with 11 Ws this season.

Vegas has a scary complement of forwards as well: Max Pacioretty is sitting on two goals and six points in three games, Jonathan Marchessault as as many in six, and Reilly Smith has established himself as a bit of a Shark-killer: he’s recorded five goals and 17 points in as many games against San Jose. Veteran Paul Stastny, in his own right, could hit a major milestone tonight, as he’s just two points away from 700 in his decorated career.

A complete effort from a shorthanded Sharks team is absolutely required tonight. If previous results are to be trusted, the Sharks only need four good minutes to put the Knights to bed, but sixty would really help.

Lines

Sharks

Expected scratches: Tim Heed (some things never change)

Injured reserve: Dalton Prout (upper body), Tomas Hertl (undisclosed)

Aaron Dell is set to start his first game since November 2, and his numbers in limited action so far this year do not look promising. In front of the backup netminder, the Sharks have a 2-3-0 record, a goals against average of 3.83, and a save percentage of 0.878. It’s hard to imagine a victory tonight if that trend continues. In brighter news, Antti Suomela was recalled from the AHL Barracuda on Wednesday and, with Hertl’s injury, will draw into the bottom of the lineup tonight. The Sharks promised a surge of youth this season, and Suomela could be the next iteration of that ostensible roster-building strategy.

Golden Knights

Max PaciorettyWilliam Karlsson — Reilly Smith
Jonathan Marchessault — Cody EakinMark Stone
Alex Tuch — Paul Stastny — Cody Glass
William CarrierTomas NosekRyan Reaves

Brayden McNabbNate Schmidt
Nicolas HagueShea Theodore
Jon MerrillDeryk Engelland

Marc-Andre Fleury
Malcolm Subban

Expected scratches: Nick Holden, Nicolas Roy

Suspended: Valentin Zykov (he did some drugs, I guess? The league promises they’ll tell me about it when I am older)

Roy was recalled on emergency basis to fill in for a mystery injury somewhere on the roster, but it looks less and less likely that his services will be required.

Where to watch

The puck drops at 7 p.m. PT / 10 p.m. ET at T-Mobile Arena in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada, and will be beamed into your fine homes on NBC Sports California and AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, but if the high stakes of this one are too scary, I’m sure you can find a better show yourself. It will also be streamed through NHL.tv as usual and ESPN+ as less usual. The dulcet tones of Dan Rusanowsky always warm my heart, and if you tune into 98.5 KFOX or stream through the Sharks + SAP Center radio app, the cold winter winds will touch you not.

Check back at puck drop! We’ll be frozen in front of our screens typing out our takes and japes, so hop in the comments and you can be frozen, too.


First Period

17:00: Lots of rushing back and forth, but so far neither team has sustained possession or pressure.

14:28: The Sharks commit two consecutive icings.

11:28: Logan Couture helps Reilly Smith lose his footing in the corner only seconds after the Knights have their biggest chance of the game. Sharks to the penalty kill.

9:22: The Sharks get an offensive-zone faceoff opportunity after successfully killing off the penalty to Couture. Evander Kane carried the puck through the end of the man-disadvantage.

8:16: Brent Burns loses the puck in a bad spot.

8:09: After bailing out Burns, Aaron Dell has to dive across the crease and make another save.

6:08: Recent recall Antti Suomela finishes a check, gets to the front of the net and draws his man. He stays in good position and tips the puck as it flies through the slot. However, Vegas is challenging for goaltender interference. So, Merrill pushed Suomela into Fluery as Suomela drove to the slot. They rule that as goaltender interference.

2:07: Timo Meier is playing alongside Dylan Gambrell and Suomela.

END FIRST: Sharks 0, Golden Knights 0

The Sharks should be up by a goal right now. Apparently, if your defender pushes you into his own goaltender, you have to control time and space to avoid knocking the goalie off balance. At about the midway point of the period, the Sharks were up in shots, but that changed in the second 10 minutes. Aaron Dell had to make some moves in the crease—14 of them, compared to only six saves for Marc-Andre Fleury.

Second Period

18:58 - Aaron Dell with the save.

18:34 - Timo Meier scores! He went to the net so fast that he tripped over Marc-Andre Fleury while celebrating. Fleury was not pleased and gave Meier a shot after the play.

15:24 - Alex Tuch’s shot knocked out of play.

13:50 - Radim Simek breaks up what was a sure scoring chance by Vegas.

13:28 - Dell with a big save to keep it 1-0.

13:00 - Sharks letting Vegas have some good scoring chances. They better tighten it up because if you leave the door open for Vegas they could blow it wide open.

12:04 - Lots of scrambling. Dell with the save. The Sharks needed to the stoppage to collect themselves.

11:34 - Ryan Reaves knocks down Melker Karlsson on a hard hit.

10:48 - Sharks called for too many men on the ice. Bonehead pass by Radim Simek, tossed the puck at the bench during a change. It was like he was begging for a call. Patrick Marleau sitting for the team.

8:48 - Sharks kill the penalty.

8:26 - Meier with another shot on goal that challenges Fleury. Meier’s really stepping it up in Tomas Hertl’s absence.

7:10 - Sharks with some good zone time and good scoring chances.

6:46 - Okay, so they didn’t score, but Marcus Sorensen was definitely tripped. Sharks on the power play. Why is Gerard Gallant angry? As penalties go, that one was pretty obvious.

6:05 - Sharks go offsides on the zone entry. 1:20 left in the power play.

4:46 - Power play is over. No goal and now the Golden Knights are using the momentum to try and tie the game.

3:36 - Shot by the Golden Knights squeaked through Dell, but didn’t make it into the goal.

2:10 - Giveaway by Brent Burns led to a 2-on-1. Dangerous chance that missed.

0:15 - I feel like Marc-Andre Fleury should get a star tonight just for his acting.

End of the second: Sharks score and then hold off Vegas. Good period.

Third Period

19:03 - Kevin Labanc with a chance to score with some sweet moves to go in alone against Marc-Andre Fleury.

16:48 - Nate Schmidt goes down after Logan Couture sticks Schmidt on the follow through. Schmidt needs to be patched up a little. No penalty. Vegas fans aren’t pleased.

16:29 - Reilly Smith put the puck off the outside of the net. Sharks fans breathe a sigh of relief.

15:42 - Brenden Dillon called for interference. Sharks back on the penalty kill.

14:24 - Brent Burns loses his stick and gives Jonathan Marchessault a grade-A chance. Dell was there to make the save.

13:42 - Dell with the save. Sharks kill the penalty. Vegas is 0-for-3 on the power play tonight, but that doesn’t mean we should give them more chances to score.

11:45 - Evander Kane knocked down in the Vegas zone, but looks like no interference. Let’s just hope it’s called the same the other way.

10:18 - Brayden McNabb ties the game. Dell deflects a shot and it bounces out to McNabb who’s all alone at the point and has the ability to skate in and shoot the puck from above the circle.

9:40 - Evander Kane tripped at the side of the net by Marc-Andre Fleury. Seems like the Sharks have gotten into his head tonight. He’s taking a lot of chances that might be penalties in another game.

9:38 - Didn’t notice from watching on TV, but looks like Simek is missing from the bench.

9:00 - Meier shaken up. Dell leaves the net for delayed penalty.

8:43 - Cody Eakin called for slashing. Meier taking a deep breath, but he’s out there for the power play.

6:43 - Power play is over and the score is still tied.

3:15 - Time’s running out for a regulation win. Sharks are working hard to get that go ahead goal.

1:41 - Sharks called for icing.

1:38 - Nate Schmidt just rang one off the goal post. That’s why you don’t ice the puck!

End of Regulation: Score is tied 1-1. Sharks had some pressure. Is it just me or does Vegas look like they’re falling a lot to see if they can get the call?

Overtime

Something to keep an eye on.

4:50 - Couture almost ended it there.

4:15 - Back to back to back insane saves! Dell with two, Fleury with one.

2:58 - Burns deflects Eakin’s shot into the netting.

1:42 - Logan Couture on the breakaway. He’s stopped by Fleury the first time, but gets the rebound and puts it five-hole for the win.

Sharks win in overtime 2-1.