The San Jose Sharks take a season-best three-game winning streak to Las Vegas on Monday night, when they open a back-to-back set with the West Division-leading Vegas Golden Knights.
The Sharks bounced back after getting swept at home by the Golden Knights to defeat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in overtime and then traveled to Anaheim where they won a back-to-back on consecutive nights over the last-place Ducks.
Evander Kane has led the way with goals in three consecutive games, including a first-period score in Saturday night’s 3-1 victory. Kane, who leads the team in scoring, has scored seven goals to go with six assists over the last 10 games.
“It’s nice to put together a winning streak, finally,” Kane said. “Obviously, we need the points with where we are in the standings and these were two important games to get back to .500 (11-11-3, 25 points) going into Vegas to set ourselves up for a good road trip.”
Garnering some points on their Monday-Wednesday back-to-back with the red-hot Golden Knights would be a good way to end the four-game trip for seventh-place San Jose, which then begins a favorable scheduling stretch in which it plays 11 of its next 15 contests at the SAP Center.
“Guys understand you can’t get too far out of the race, especially at this point of the season,” said Kane. “To get back to .500, it’s a good step for our group. We need to gain some more ground on teams that are ahead of us.”
That doesn’t figure to be easy against a Vegas team that has won all three meetings this season, including 5-4 in overtime and 4-0 in a back-to-back in San Jose on March 5-6. That improved the Golden Knights to 11-1-3 all-time in the regular season against the Sharks and brought this zinger from Vegas center Jonathan Marchessault.
“We used to have a pretty good rivalry,” Marchessault said. “Now it’s not as powerful as it was the first two years. … We just came here and took care of business.”
Of course, San Jose did hand Vegas easily the toughest postseason loss in team history in 2019, rallying from a 3-1 deficit to win a conference first-round series, capped by a controversial 5-4 overtime victory in Game 7. The Golden Knights allowed four late third-period goals over the span of 4:01 after a disputed five-minute major cross-checking penalty by Cody Eakin on Joe Pavelski.
“In the playoffs, they won one, and we won one,” said Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. “That’s still in the back of my head.”
Vegas, which is a West Division-best 10-2-1 at home, is 8-2-0 over its last 10 games and comes in off a sweep of its two games at St. Louis, 5-4 in overtime on Friday and 5-1 on Saturday. Fleury, despite being flagged for a false-positive COVID-19 test on Thursday, was in net for both and has started 15 of the last 16 games. He continues to lead the NHL in goals-against average (1.81) and save percentage (.935).
“The COVID thing, I was in my room for a day and a half not moving too much from my bed, so a little time to recover there,” the 36-year-old Fleury said of his busy schedule.
“Every game I’m just trying to do my best, keep our team in the game. It doesn’t matter if my legs are tired or not. Just trying to find a way to keep the game close.”
–Field Level Media