Golden Knights 5, Sharks 2
The Vegas Golden Knights are no longer the new kids on the NHL block.
They’re a perennial powerhouse.
Jonathan Marchessault scored twice, and the Golden Knights became the first NHL team to clinch a playoff berth, beating San Jose on Wednesday night for their eighth straight victory.
Vegas, which leads the NHL with 33 wins and 68 points, also became the fourth franchise in NHL history to make the playoffs in each of its first four seasons. The Golden Knights lost to the Washington Capitals in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season.
“It’s an accomplishment in this league; 31 teams to make the playoffs,” said Peter DeBoer, who has led two teams to Stanley Cup Final appearances during his coaching career. “What this franchise has done so far is unheard of. I don’t know if you’ll ever see that again out of an expansion team.
“I wouldn’t trade our group for any other group out there.”
The Golden Knights improved to 15-1-3 all-time against the Sharks in regular-season meetings — including a perfect 7-0-0 this season. Vegas also improved to 18-4-2 at home this season.
“We’ve been doing good against (San Jose),” Marchessault said. “We seem to be playing the right way. It’s good to have success against a divisional team like that.”
Mark Stone Alex Tuch, and Mattias Janmark also scored for Vegas. Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves to improve to 5-0-0 against the Sharks this season and 7-0-1 in his last eight.
“They’re scoring every night, and they’re looking dangerous doing it,” DeBoer said of his team’s offense. “That for me is what we’re looking for, even on nights when the pucks don’t go in, we’re creating momentum, we’re getting chances, we’re putting pressure on the other team.”
Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl scored for San Jose, which is now mired in an 0-6-1 slide. Josef Korenar made 35 saves.
The Sharks took a 2-1 lead just past midway through the second period before the Golden Knights scored four unanswered goals.
“The hottest team in the league, it’s not just us,” San Jose coach Bob Boughner said. “We’re a team that doesn’t match up on paper to them. So a lot of things have to go right for us. They find ways to win. Our power play has to get going, it’s been dry for a while. That’s the difference in these tight games. You have to have good special teams when you go against these guys.”
The Sharks were 0 for 3 on the power plays against the league’s second-best penalty kill.
On the power play, Pacioretty fed Stone, who wrapped the puck around Korenar to knot the score 2-all with 7:08 left in the second period. It was Stone’s team-leading sixth power-play goal of the season, while Pacioretty became the 10th active U.S.-born player to collect 600 career points.
Tuch blasted home the go-ahead goal with 50 seconds left in the second, giving Vegas its first lead of the game.
Marchessault netted his second goal and third point of the night when he beat Korenar short side, extending Vegas’ lead to 4-2 with 6:42 left in the game.
Janmark, who was acquired from Chicago at the trade deadline, scored an empty-netter for his first as a Golden Knight with 56 seconds to go.
“I liked our resiliency, I liked our calmness tonight,” DeBoer said. “I thought after the first period, we could’ve been up three. We stuck with it. We took some penalties we found to kill off, get some big saves at the right time. There wasn’t any panic there.”
Two nights after Patrick Marleau appeared in his record-breaking 1,768th career NHL game to pass Gordie Howe for all-time games played, he skated in his 900th consecutive game, becoming the fourth player ever to do so.
Marchessault, who has 22 points in 19 regular-season games against the Sharks, has scored nine of his 13 goals this season at home.
Dylan Sikura, who had three points in nine appearances with Chicago last season, made his team debut for the Golden Knights, playing in his NHL game since Jan. 15, 2020.
Wild 4, Coyotes 1
Kirill Kiprizov scored a dazzling goal to break Minnesota's rookie record, Cam Talbot stopped 39 shots and the Wild beat Arizona to stretch their winning streak to five games.
The Wild withstood a big initial flurry by Arizona and an early goal by Christian Dvorak in a tight-checking game. Kevin Fiala and Marcus Foligno each scored to put the Wild up, then Kiprizov deked goalie Darcy Kuemper out of the crease and scored on a wraparound.
It was Kiprizov's 19th goal, breaking Marian Gaborik's rookie record.
Talbot made some big saves down the stretch, and Nico Sturm added an empty-net goal to give Minnesota a 16-point cushion over the Coyotes for third in the West Division.
The Coyotes dominated early but couldn't get anything else past Talbot in losing for the seventh time in eight games.
Blackhawks 5, Predators 4 (OT)
Brandon Hagel scored three minutes into overtime to lift Chicago past Nashville.
Hagel also had two assists to help Chicago beat Nashville for the first time in seven games this season. Pius Suter and Vinnie Hinostroza each had a goal and an assist, Wyatt Kalynuk and Dominik Kubalik added goals, and Malcolm Subban made 35 saves. The Blackhawks trailed 4-1 after Luke Kunin scored 58 seconds into the third.
Mikael Granlund had a goal and an assist for the Predators, Eeli Tolvanen and Colton Sissons also scored, and Juuse Saros made 25 saves.
The teams will meet again in Chicago on Friday night.
Canadiens 4, Oilers 3
Josh Anderson had two goals and Montreal withstood a late push by Edmonton to split a two-game series.
Tyler Toffoli and Artturi Lehkonen also scored for Montreal (20-15-9). Jake Allen made 22 saves as the Canadiens picked up just their third win in nine games. Jeff Petry and Tomas Tatar each had two assists.
Montreal moved eight points clear of the Calgary Flames for the North Division's fourth and final playoff spot.
Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jesse Puljujarvi added goals for Edmonton (27-16-2). Mike Smith made 27 saves.
The Oilers, who beat Montreal 4-1 on Monday and had won eight straight at home, missed a chance to pass the Winnipeg Jets for second in the standings.
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