Two straight wins to emphatically snap a losing skid is doing wonders for the Vegas Golden Knights. It’s academic that those consecutive victories have come against the league’s worst-struggling teams.
As the Golden Knights prepare to play host to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, they’re confident a swoon of their own is in the rearview mirror.
“We’ve played better hockey,” defenseman Shea Theodore told NHL.com. “I think we’ve been playing faster, and a lot of our guys have been ready to go from puck drop and playing a full 60-minute game.”
Vegas is coming off a 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, which followed a 6-0 beatdown of the Calgary Flames on Sunday. The Maple Leafs are winless in six games while the Flames are winless in five outings, but nobody in Sin City is devaluing their victories.
“The last six periods, they’ve been really good,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant stated. “Obviously, Toronto put a push on — that’s another good team over there. I thought we played perfect hockey the first two periods.”
The Toronto victory marked a couple of milestones. Marc-Andre Fleury became the seventh goaltender to collect 450 career wins, and he did it with style by making a diving stop to rob Nic Petan of a goal. Meanwhile, rookie Cody Glass netted one goal and one assist for his first multiple-point game.
“I had two games in a row where I missed empty nets, pretty much,” Glass told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “If I didn’t put that one in, I didn’t know if I was going to score again. So, it was nice to put that one in and get the monkey off the back.”
The Sharks head to Las Vegas after a 5-2 home loss to the Edmonton Oilers, which snapped their six-game winning streak. Knowing how they opened the season with a pair of one-sided losses to the Golden Knights, the Sharks are well aware it’s paramount they perform better.
“We need to play a lot better than we did tonight or it could get ugly,” captain Logan Couture told the San Jose Mercury News. “I think it’s a wake-up call for us right now. You win six in a row, winning kind of masks when you’re not playing your best and you find a way to win. The last couple games, that’s the way the games have gone. We haven’t played our game, but we found a way to win. Tonight, I think we got what we deserved. A loss.”
As upset as Couture was, the Sharks weren’t as outclassed as the final score indicated. San Jose doubled the Oilers in first-period shots on goal yet trailed 3-1.
“It was a strange game,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “I thought in the first period we put a lot of pressure on them. When you come out down 3-1 after outshooting them 18-9, that’s a tough way to start the game, a tough hole to crawl out of.”
Couture, however, pointed out that shots on goal doesn’t equate to quality scoring chances without the extra effort.
“Not enough net-front presence,” Couture explained. “A lot of our shots, we didn’t have screens. We weren’t getting second opportunities around their net. If (Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen) saw it, he was stopping it.”
–Field Level Media