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Blog: Sharks hang on to top Golden Knights

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Steve Marcus

San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones (31) blocks a shot by Vegas Golden Knights center Jonathan Marchessault (81) in the third period at T-Mobile Arena Thursday, Jan 10, 2019.

Published Thu, Jan 10, 2019 (4 p.m.)

Updated Thu, Jan 10, 2019 (9:35 p.m.)

The Golden Knights had one final push, but could not overcome the late Sharks' lead, and fell 3-2 on Thursday at T-Mobile Arena.

The Golden Knights had a power play with 3:44 to go in regulation, and pulled the goalie with 2:44 to go and threw six forwards over the boards, but it was not enough. They finished with 38 shots on goal to San Jose's 27.

Jon Merrill scored his first of the season at 2:16 of the third to restore the Golden Knights' lead. Brandon Pirri raced into the zone and battled with Evander Kanea dn fed Merrill, who blasted it through traffic to make it 2-1.

Alex Tuch got the secondary assist and Ryan Carpenter had a screen in front of San Jose goalie Martin Jones.

The lead did not last long.

Melker Karlsson scored a goal similar to Tomas Nosek's at the beginning of the game, collecting a Brent Burns rebound that went low off Marc-Andre Fleury's pad right to his stick to even the game at 7:24.

Thirty-nine seconds later the Sharks grabbed their first lead of the game. Tomas Hertl's shot redirected off Joonas Donskoi's stick and the Sharks connected on two of their four shots in less than a minute and it was 3-2.

Second period goes to the Sharks

The San Jose Sharks played from behind most of the second period, but were the only side to score.

Tomas Hertl entered the zone himself and fired a swift wrister that beat Marc-Andre Fleury clean to even the game at 1-1 at 14:05. The score remained the same through the end of the period.

Both sides had plenty of scoring chances, and Brent Burns even hit a crossbar for the Sharks midway through the period.

The Golden Knights outshot the Sharks, 12-5 in the second period to up their lead for the game to 25-15.

Golden Knights lead after one

The Golden Knights controlled the first half of the first period, and eded the frame with a 1-0 lead over the San Jose Sharks.

Vegas got on the board 94 seconds into the game, when Tomas Nosek cashed in on a rebound and fired it past an out-of-position Martin Jones.

Ryan Reaves started the play by charging down the right-wing side and pulling Jones to the left of the crease. Reaves' shot off Jones pad went right to Nosek, who did the rest.

It was Nosek's sixth goal of the season and Reaves' seventh assist. Brayden McNabb also got an assist on the play, his 10th.

Neither team scored on its respective power play in the first.

Zykov debuts

Valentin Zykov will make his Golden Knights debut tonight against the Sharks.

Signs pointed to a Zykov appearance at practices lately, as he skated on the fourth line with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Ryan Reaves at Wednesday's practice, and was on the ice for this morning's optional skate. With goalie Maxime Lagace's recall, the Golden Knights had only one forward to scratch. That will be Cody Eakin, who missed Wednesday's skate to take a "maintenance day," according to coach Gerard Gallant.

Zykov will skate on the third line with Oscar Lindberg and Ryan Carpenter tonight.

The Golden Knights claimed Zykov off waivers from the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 29 and he reported to the team Jan. 3. He has three points in 18 games this season, all assists and all with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Pre-game

The last time the San Jose Sharks came to town, the Golden Knights handled them quite easily, knocking them off 6-0 on Nov. 24. That was before the Sharks hit their groove. And that was before San Jose's Erik Karlsson started playing like the Norris Trophy winner he is.

The Sharks have won four games in a row and six of their last seven, and their star defenseman has a 14-game assist streak as the Sharks visit T-Mobile Arena at 7 p.m. today.

"You worry about their team. You don't change your style for Erik Karlsson," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. "We played this team before, we had success against this team. Nothing is going to change for us, no matter what their guys are doing."

Karlsson had 25 assists in that 14-game streak, with 38 on the year, second only among NHL blueliners to his teammate Brent Burns. He won the Norris in 2014-15 and is looking to make his case for another in his first year in San Jose.

Burns, meanwhile, has 41 assists and 49 points, both tops in the league among defensemen. It's the biggest challenge the Golden Knights will face, as the Sharks present a blue line that most teams can only dream of.

"You have to play them physical," Vegas forward Ryan Reaves said. "Once the puck gets turned over, you have to make sure you're back-checking. They like to get their D involved in the rush, and they're good at it."

Then there are the San Jose forwards. Logan Couture (42 points) Timo Meier (40), Joe Pavelski (38) and Tomas Hertl (35) all have more points than any Golden Knight. Pavelski (25 goals), Meier (18), Couture (16) and Evander Kane (16) would all lead Vegas in goals scored.

The Sharks are in third place in the Pacific Division, one point behind the Golden Knights. The two met in last year's Western Conference semifinals, with the Knights taking the series in six. It wouldn't surprise anyone to see another series in April.

"It's two really good teams playing hockey against each other," Gallant said. "Every time you play San Jose, it's a fun game to play."

Emerson's Prediction: Sharks 3, Golden Knights 2

Season record for predictions: Keefer 5-4, Emerson 9-6

TV: AT&T SportsNet (DirecTV 684, Cox 1313, CenturyLink 1760)

Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM

Betting line: Golden Knights minus-121, Sharks plus-111; over/under: 6 (minus-110, plus-100)

Golden Knights (27-15-4) (15-3-3 home)

Coach: Gerard Gallant (second season)

Points leader: Alex Tuch (34)

Goals leader: William Karlsson (15)

Assists leader: Alex Tuch (20)

Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (2.46 gaa, .912 save percentage)

Sharks (25-13-7) (10-9-3 road)

Coach: Peter DeBoer (fourth season)

Points leader: Brent Burns (49)

Goals leader: Joe Pavelski (25)

Assists leader: Brent Burns (41)

Expected goalie: Martin Jones (2.82 gaa, .899 save percentage)

Golden Knights expected lineup

Forwards

Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, Max Pacioretty, Brandon Pirri, Paul Stastny, Alex Tuch, Tomas Nosek, Oscar Lindberg, Ryan Carpenter, Valentin Zykov, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Reaves

Defensemen

Brayden McNabb, Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore, Deryk Engelland, Nick Holden, Jon Merrill

Goalies

Marc-Andre Fleury, Maxime Lagace

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