The San Jose Sharks entered last night’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights looking to extend the first win streak of the season. The first period started out fairly lackluster — whether or not that is a good thing is certainly up for debate. San Jose had the only power play of the period, and were unable to capitalize. Despite the relatively clean period, the Sharks once again gave up a goal within the last minute of the period, this time to Jack Eichel with just four seconds remaining.
After ending the first down in shots six to eleven, the Sharks were able to rally back during the second period, putting 12 shots against goaltender Logan Thompson, including a goal from Luke Kunin just over eight minutes into the period. The goal marked Kunin’s third of the season and his 100th career NHL point, with assists to Erik Karlsson and Nico Sturm.
Unfortunately, Vegas was able to score late again, but on the bright side, the goal from Jonathan Marchessault came with just over four minutes left in the period, leaving the team time to fight back before the period closed. The second ended with shots 18 to 20 in favor of Vegas, as San Jose worked to close the gap.
Quick scoring struck again to open the third period. Matt Nieto’s second goal of the year came just over the one minute mark. The Sharks seemed to get stronger as the period went on, killing off two penalties with the game tied, and when given the opportunity for a power play capitalized on it. Timo Meier’s game-winning power play goal came at 17:12 in the third and was assisted by Logan Couture and Alexander Barabanov. The assist was Barabanov’s second of the night and marked his ninth point (1 goal, 8 assists) in his last seven games.
Couture and Mario Ferraro both added empty net goals to finish out the game. All in all, the team did what they set out to do, end the road trip on a high note — and they managed to answer some questions along the way.
The deck is stacked against San Jose
It’s true, the odds did not look good for the Sharks coming into the game. Luckily, the team managed to keep the momentum rolling from the last two games. Even though things seemed a bit rocky at the start, they came out on top. Last night’s game was the win over Vegas in regulation since Game 5 of the 2019 playoffs.
Overall, the game had far fewer penalty minutes than expected between teams who are generally considered rivals. Although, some may say that Vegas media doesn’t really consider the Sharks rival material anymore. Meier’s response to the thought? “If they don’t think it’s a rivalry, we don’t really care. We won today.”
He’s right, whether it’s considered a rivalry match-up or not, the boys in teal are coming home with two more points.
Play the special teams percentages
They sure did! The number two ranked penalty kill squad held the Golden Knights to 0/3 on the power play. This improves their success percentage to 91.5 and lowers Vegas’ power play success percentage to 22.5. On the other side, the Sharks managed to score on one of their two power play opportunities. While that doesn’t actually improve their percentage or ranking, it does bring Vegas’ penalty kill percentage down to 75, putting them at 25th in the league.
Even though the Sharks’ special teams didn’t improve their own rankings, they played a large role in helping the team secure the win, accounting for the game-winning goal and a key late-game penalty kill while the game was tied.
Who replaces Radim Simek?
On the roster? Nick Cicek. The Winnipeg born defender earned his NHL debut on Tuesday night after starting the year with the San Jose Barracuda in the AHL. In his first career game, Cicek played 17:35 minutes, registering one shot on goal and two hits. There was also an unfortunate defensive zone giveaway that ultimately led to Jack Eichel’s goal in the first. While it doesn’t quite make sense to use one game’s worth of numbers to compare Cicek to Simek, Cicek’s TOI, shot on goal, and two hits definitely suggest he isn’t unprepared for the NHL level. Whether or not he can keep it up remains to be seen, but he’s definitely off to a good start.
- Jack Eichel’s first period goal marked his 400th career NHL point.
- Nick Cicek is the first Sharks rookie to play this season and is the first Turkish player in the NHL.
- Nico Sturm’s line certainly did their thing, but luckily our prediction was wrong where the top two Sharks lines were concerned.