sjsharks.com photo: The Vegas Knights’ center Cody Eakin (21) and the San Jose Sharks Logan Couture (39) chase down the puck during Saturday night’s game at T Mobile Center
By Mary Walsh
The San Jose Sharks lost on the road to the Las Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 Saturday. Las Vegas goals came from Shea Theodore, Oscar Lindberg and William Karlsson. Sharks goals came from Joe Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves for the win, while Martin Jones made 35 saves for the Sharks.
Saturday’s win clinched first place in the Pacific Division for the Knights. Sharks forward Chris Tierney said, of the NHL’s newest team:
They have a lot of speed. You know, they create chances off of turnovers and they move pucks well in the o-zone. If you’re sleeping a bit or if you lose your guy they’re going to find him and make plays. They play with a lot of speed, a lot of energy, and they cane hurt you if you don’t manage the puck well.
As the playoffs approach, the return of injured players is particularly good news for the Sharks. Saturday saw Joonas Donskoi return for his first game since March 14. Joel Ward played his third game since his lengthy absence. Barclay Goodrow and Eric Fehr are out now. Fehr is expected back before Goodrow, who in recovering from finger surgery. No return date is set yet for Joe Thornton, though he has been skating.
Shea Theodore opened the scoring in the first period at 2:21. A nice play from blue line to faceoff circle and back up to the high slot was aided by a good screen from Alex Tuch. Assists went to William Karlsson and Deryk Engelland.
The Sharks answered back at 7:14 with a goal from Joe Pavelski. Joonas Donskoi carried the puck into the zone along the boards and found Timo Meier near the faceoff dot. Meier’s shot created a big rebound that went right to Pavelski for the goal.
The second Vegas goal came after Kevin Labanc’s failed clear landed right on Shea Theodore’s stick at 3:03 of the second period. Theodore’s shot went through traffic, off Oscar Lindberg’s stick and right under Jones. Theodore got the only assist.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic tied the game at 9:50. The Sharks had just added an extra skater during a delayed penalty against Las Vegas when Joe Pavelski took a shot from the blue line. The shot hit Fleury and came back out for Vlasic to put away. It was Vlasic’s 11th goal of the season, a career high. Assists to Pavelski and Justin Braun.
The Knights challenged the goal for goaltender interference, as Timo Meier looked close to Fleury. Meier and Fleury did make some contact. but not inside the crease, and well before the shot came through.
William Karlsson scored the game winner short-handed at 8:35 of the third period. The Sharks power play was struggling mightily, hardly able to get through the neutral zone. Karlsson picked off a failed pass from Joe Pavelski to Brent Burns and took off on a breakaway. He went all the way to the net, then let the puck go between his legs for a nice little trick shot.
The Sharks play next on Tuesday in San Jose, against the Dallas Stars at 7:30 pm PT.