Max Pacioretty’s goal, his 2nd of the game at 1:25 in overtime, saved the Golden Knights from what would have been a disastrous loss to the San Jose Sharks. It was Pacioretty 3rd winning OT goal this season as Vegas won the opening game of this back-to-back 2-game series 5-4.
The VGK led 2-0 after the first period, then 3-0 on Pacioretty’s first goal just 2:57 into the second period. They also had a 4-2 lead when Alex Tuch scored his 6th goal in 6 games just 26 seconds into the 3rd period.
Once again, the VGK sent Martin Jones to an early shower when he was replaced after Pacioretty’s first goal. Jones gave up 3 goals on just 8 VGK shots. He must have nightmares when he sees the VGK on the upcoming schedule; he’s been pulled in 8 out of his 23 starts against Vegas—an astonishing 35%. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that has to be the highest percentage of any goaltender being pulled vs. a specific team. It’s a pure guess, but I’m confident I’m spot on with this opinion.
After starting the last 10 games for the VGK, Marc-Andre Fleury had a well-deserved night off. Oscar Dansk was the starting goaltender in this 5-4 win and he made 25 saves on 29 shots. This was Oscar’s first win since Oct. 27, 2017, when he had a shutout, 7-0 vs. Colorado. His last appearance for the VGK was on Oct 21, 2019, vs. Philadelphia a game he gave up 6 goals in the 6-2 VGK loss.
Oscar was recently returned to the Henderson Silver Knights. This move allowed him some playing time in anticipation of giving Fleury a rest. Oscar won all 3 games he played for the HSK. Last night, Dansk looked good for the most part; it’s hard to judge his play, considering we’ve been watching Fleury just being the Flower night after night. He did misplay the puck with the VGK leading 4-3 with just 1:07 left in the game. This led to Kevin LaBanc getting credit for the tying goal as it appeared Dansk may have knocked the puck into his own net after misplaying the dump-in.
It’s not just Martin Jones who Vegas beats up on. It’s the whole team. The Knights have a 10-1-3 record all time vs. San Jose. But Jones does appear to be the VGK pinata—though candy doesn’t spill out of Jones, just lots of VGK goals that slip by him.
The VGK’s penalty kill has been solid all season, having killed off the last 20 power plays. But then they surrendered a PPG to Brent Burns at the 6:01 mark of the second. Burns’ goal at first wasn’t seen and play continued as everyone in SAP Center believed it rang off of the post and crossbar. But a short time, later the horn blew; the War Room in Toronto saw on the replay that the puck actually crossed the goal line, hit the camera that’s in the net, and ricocheted out cutting the 3-0 lead to 3-1.
The VGK’s 5 goals should not come as a surprise, as the San Jose Sharks have the 30th ranked GAA and save percentage of the 31 teams in the NHL. The Sharks have given up the most goals in the Honda West Division: 82 in 21 games. By comparison, the VGK have given up 45 goals in 20 games.
Reilly Smith’s opening goal broke his 10-game scoring drought. Chandler Stephenson’s goal was his 2nd in the last 2 games.
Alex Tuch was crunched into the boards face first late in the 2nd period by San Jose’s Kurtis Gabriel. Gabriel had to answer to Ryan Reaves at the start of the 3rd period. In the spirited bout, Reaves landed a big right hand to Gabriel’s left cheek that showed an immediate bruise. It may very well be a nice shiner by the start of tomorrow’s game. With Reaves sitting in the penalty box, Alex Tuch took Revo’s spot on the 4th line and just 26 seconds later, he scored his 10th goal of the season.
Max Pacioretty leads the team with 12 goals with his 2-goal performance along with 1 assist for a 3-point night. Tuch and Pacioretty are scoring at will or so it seems.
These 2 teams are back at it again tonight at 7:30 p.m.
My 3 Stars Of The Game: Max Pacioretty (2 G, including the game- winner in OT, plus 1 assist), Mark Stone (2 assists, including on Pacioretty’s winning OT goal), Alex Tuch (1 G which, regained a 2-goal lead for the VGK in the 3rd period)
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