Photo credit: San Jose Sharks
by M. Walsh
After two losses in a row, and six periods without a goal, the Sharks finished the preseason with a 5-3 win in Las Vegas against the Golden Knights. The game winner came on the power play from young defenseman Nick DeSimone. Goaltender Aaron Dell stopped 20 of 22 shots in the first half of the game, while Troy Grosenick stopped 14 of 15 in the second half. For Las Vegas, Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 of 32 shots.
NHL regulars to skate for San Jose included Joel Ward, Chris Tierney, Mikkel Boedker, Joonas Donskoi and Brandon Bollig. Dylan DeMelo was the most veteran defenseman. John McCarthy and Barclay Goodrow, AHL veterans with significant NHL time under their belts, skated as well.
The Sharks were outshot 13-6 in the first period. Unsurprisingly, Las Vegas scored first at 8:08. The Sharks had an offensive zone draw but McCarthy lost it to Haula. As the puck bounced around behind Fleury’s net, Haula predicted its path well enough to reach it in the slot and took off down the ice before McCarthy or Simek could catch him.
Late in the period, DeSimone went to the box for holding the stick. During an abbreviated 4 on 3 power play, David Perron was unable to hold the puck in after Radim Simek cleared it from in front of the net. Marcus Sorensen was there, chasing the puck out and he had momentum on his side when the puck slid over the blue line. Perron and Vadim Shipachyov both gave chase. DeSimone pulled up as Fleury came out to meet him on the edge of the blue paint. DeSimone moved the puck to his left while diving over Fleury’s legs to tap the puck in. Simek got the assist on the tying goal.
The Sharks picked up their game in the second, scoring twice and outshooting Vegas 13-9. At 4:28, Chris Tierney scored on a power play while Jason Garrison sat in the box for tripping. It only took seven seconds for the team to get set up. Joel Ward sent the puck to the blue line where Tim Heed caught it and sent it to Dylan Demelo, who shot it. Tierney tipped it in for San Jose’s first lead in seven periods.
Near the halfway point of the period, Ryan Carpenter redirected a stray puck out of the Sharks zone, to Barclay Goodrow along the neutral zone boards. Finding himself free to do so, Goodrow skated to the faceoff circle and put a shot over Fleury’s left shoulder. It was the Sharks’ only even-strength goal of the game.
Two minutes later, the Sharks thwarted a three on two rush from Vegas, but could not get the puck back out before David Perron got control of the puck along the blue line. After a moment’s reflection, he took the long shot and scored. William Karlsson got the assist.
After that goal, the shot count was 22-11 Las Vegas.
A couple of minutes later, Cody Eakin carried the puck around behind the Sharks net and found Colin Miller just crossing the blue line. Eakin’s pass reached Miller perfectly for a quick shot to tie the game. Assists went to Eakin and Shea Theodore.
Tied going into the third, the game winner came on a power play just past the halfway mark. After surviving a three on two short-handed rush, the Sharks went the other way quickly enough to keep the Knights from getting their penalty kill set back up. A shot from Daniel O’Regan produced a rebound that DeSimone was able to push under Fleury. Assists went to O’Regan and Timo Meier.
The Knights pulled Fleury with 1:45 left, and used their timeout. The Sharks kept the Knights to the outside of their zone until the final 30 seconds when Grosenick stopped a shot from Schmidt and kicked it right up into the slot. Luckily, Joel Ward was there to help it along, all the way down and into the empty net.
Ironically, Timo Meier and Mikkel Boedker led the Sharks forwards in shots on goal with four each, yet came away with just one assist between them. For the Knights, Jason Marchessault got credit for seven shots on goal.
The Sharks will play their first regular season game on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers in San Jose. The game starts at 7:30 PM PT.