LAS VEGAS – – The Vegas Golden Knights are no longer the new kids on the NHL block.
They are a multi-year powerhouse.
JJonathan Marchessault scored twice, and the Golden Knights became the first NHL team to secure a place in the playoffs, beating the San Jose Sharks 5-2 for the eighth year in a row on Wednesday night.
Vegas, which leads the NHL with 33 wins and 68 points, was also 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 their inaugural season in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.
“It’s an achievement in this league, 31 teams in the playoffs,” said Peter DeBoer, who has led two teams to the Stanley Cup final during his coaching career. “What this franchise has done to date is unknown. I don’t know if you will ever see this from an expansion team again.
“I wouldn’t trade our group for another group out there.”
The Golden Knights improved to 15-1-3 in regular seasonal meetings against the Haie – including a perfect 7-0-0 this season. Vegas also improved to 18-4-2 at home that season.
“We did well against (San Jose),” said Marchessault. “We seem to be playing right. It’s good to be successful against a division team like this.”
Mark Stone Alex Tuch and Mattias Janmark also scored goals for Vegas. Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves to improve 5-0-0 against the Sharks this season and 7-0-1 in his last eight games.
“They meet every night and they look dangerous,” said DeBoer of his team’s offense. “For me, that’s what we’re looking for, even on the nights when the pucks don’t go in. We create momentum, we get opportunities, we put pressure on the other team.”
Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl scored a goal for San Jose, which is now in a 0-6-1 foil. Josef Korenar made 35 parades.
The Sharks took a 2-1 lead shortly after the middle of the second half before the Golden Knights scored four unanswered goals.
“The hottest team in the league isn’t just us,” said San Jose manager Bob Boughner. “We’re a team that doesn’t agree with them on paper. 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 up against these guys. “
The Haie were 0 for 3 in the power games against the league’s second-best penalty.
During the power play, Pacioretty fed Stone, who wrapped the puck around Korenar to tie the score at 7:08 in the second period. It was Stone’s team-leading sixth power play goal of the season, while Pacioretty was the 10th active US-born player to collect 600 career points.
Cloth shot home the starting goal 50 seconds ahead, giving Vegas the first lead of the game.
Marchessault scored his second goal and third point of the night when he defeated Korenar’s short side, extending Vegas’ lead to 4-2 with 6:42 in the game.
Janmark, acquired by Chicago at close of trading, scored a Golden Netter for his first Golden Knight 56 seconds to go.
“I liked our stamina, I liked our rest tonight,” said DeBoer. “I thought after the first period we could have been three years old. We stuck with it. We imposed some penalties that we found to kill and get some big saves at the right time. There was no panic there . “
Two nights after Patrick Marleau in his record breaking NHL game with 1,768. Career against Gordie Howe for all games played, he skated in his 900th game in a row, making him the fourth player to ever do so.
HOME SWEET HOME
Marchessault, who has 22 points in 19 regular season games against the Sharks, has scored nine of his 13 goals at home this season.
Dylan Sikura, who had three points in nine games at Chicago last season, made his team debut for the Golden Knights and has played in his NHL game since January 15, 2020.
Sharks: hosted Minnesota on Saturday.
Golden Knights: On Saturday in Anaheim.
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