Bad blood holds up in season opener as Knights win 4-1

Photo credit: @GoldenKnights

By Pearl Allison Lo

The match between the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights was filled with penalties and the usual physical aspects as the Golden Knights won again 5-1 in front of their home crowd at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday night.

In the previous two preseason games this year, the Sharks lost 3-1 and 5-1 as their struggles versus goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Vegas continued. 

Special teams went the same way in the three games, with the Knights scoring at least once each time (4 for 11) and the Sharks scoreless throughout (0 for 10). 

This was the contest that counted though, as the beginning of the two teams’ fate was in this new season. 

Sharks goalie Martin Jones played the whole game, but could not be faulted for all the goals that went past him. It was the first time San Jose was outshot at the end, but by a worse margin at 35-22. 

Fleury, meanwhile, continued to hold solid. 

Three skaters were missing this time, as the Sharks’ Evander Kane commenced a three-game suspension spanning from the first of three straight games between the teams, San Jose’s (Erik) Karlsson was absent due to personal reasons and the Knights’ Nate Schmidt would end up leaving after only 3:11 time on ice with the first injury of the game.

It was a continuation of the hyped up rivalry as Vegas converted the emotions into two goals within 95 seconds to begin the game. They showed this dominance with goals before the five-minute mark in each period. 

The Sharks’ Brent Burns was whistled for tripping at 2:48, and nearly a minute later, Mark Stone capitalized. 

10 seconds after Stone hit the post, he scored from the left faceoff circle as the puck glanced off goalie Jones’ left side upon its entry. Stone received the puck after Marc-Edouard Vlasic secured the puck but his pass went through Brendon Dillon’s legs to Stone. 

Vlasic and Dalton Prout then missed each other on the return of a back-and-forth in the Knights’ end. William Karlsson picked up the puck and fed Reilly Smith who caught Jones at 5:21 to make it 2-0 while Jones’ legs were in a zigzag position.

26 seconds later, San Jose got their first power play as Brandon Pirri was called for hooking. It only lasted a minute though as Kevin Labanc was called for hooking as well. 

An unintentional knee-on-knee collision between Schmidt and the Sharks’ newly crowned captain Logan Couture resulted in the former leaving the ice.

Vegas got another power play at 9:52, but this time, their advantage only lasted seven seconds as Paul Stastny was called for interference.  

San Jose then showed their hand at 12:14 as Marcus Sorensen scored off the crossbar as he went above Fleury’s left shoulder to bring along his team.

The first period had the most penalties (five) and a high faceoff advantage (76% to 24%) in favor of the Knights.  

Vegas struck with another early goal, this one at 2:12 of the second, as Cody Glass scored his first NHL goal in his debut. 

Scuffles off the puck came to a head at 13:44 when Bryaden McNabb was called for roughing on Timo Meier with a punch to Meier’s face. Smith had a shorthanded attempt during the resulting power play. 

With 1:02 left in the period, Sorensen played a part again as he tipped in Dillon’s shot. However, it was marked as no goal as Sorensen’s stick was high before the puck found the net. The call held under video review to preserve the Knights’ two-goal margin. 

Vegas stretched the shot differential open with 16 to five attempts in the period. The Sharks blocked 11 to four of them. 

This time, the third started with a San Jose power play. However, it also resulted in a goal as Burns lost the puck and Dylan Gambrell fell. Burns and Gambrell fell once more as all alone, Jones was forced to choose between the oncoming Karlsson and Smith as Smith scored his second of the night to put up a 4-1 lead at 4:01. 

If one looked at the resulting TV shot that showed Meier hunched over, it might seem that was a reaction to the goal but earlier, Meier had taken a puck to the gut from Labanc and he later retreated to the dressing room. 

Labanc subsequently ended up taking a high stick from Tomas Nosek at 14:59 and followed Meier to the dressing room too. 

Up Next: The teams return for the last game in a row Friday at 7:30 p.m. as the teams return to Northern California.

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