Pacioretty, Tuch help Golden Knights win preseason game in San Jose

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Steve Marcus

Vegas Golden Knights right wing Alex Tuch (89) celebrates after scoring in the third period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series against the San Jose Sharks at T-Mobile Arena Tuesday, April 16, 2019.

Sat, Sep 21, 2019 (8:29 p.m.)

It pales in comparison to the last time the Golden Knights were in this building, but a preseason win is still nice.

The Golden Knights scored in each period and never trailed at SAP Center on Saturday, knocking off the San Jose Sharks for a 3-1 preseason victory. Of course, Vegas' last trip to San Jose was in Game 7 of a playoff series with the Sharks, where a controversial major penalty on the Golden Knights helped San Jose erase a deficit with four goals in four minutes to eliminate the Golden Knights.

Valentin Zykov scored first for the Golden Knights on Saturday, followed by Max Pacioretty and then a power-play goal from Alex Tuch. Vegas improved to 4-0 on the preseason.

Here are three takeaways from the victory.

Vets look ready to go

Preseason is important for players fighting for a roster spot. The guys who have the big contracts and are locked into the opening roster? Not so much.

Yet, many of the Golden Knights contributors showed again tonight they are ready for the regular season.

Pacioretty factored into all of Vegas’ goals, assisting Tuch on a power play goal in the initial minute of the third period in a sequence of back and forth passing for a beautiful attack on the net. Pacioretty also fought through the San Jose defense in the first period for a shot attempt, which eventually led to Zykov’s goal. And in the second period, Pacioretty scored a goal of his own, ripping a one-timer from the slot.

In addition to his power play goal, Tuch also excelled on penalty kill against the Sharks. Tuch is projected to play on the third line this season, which would mean a likely dip in 5-on-5 ice time. He could, however, become on the penalty kill, where his speed on the wing would be a weapon — as witnessed Saturday.

Marc-Andre Fleury looked good to go in his first action of the preseason. He didn’t need to make too many flashy saves, and the only San Jose goal was a deflection from far out of the crease. He finished with 28 saves.

Coghlan continues to impress

Coming into camp, rookie defenseman Dylan Coghlan wasn’t one of the favorites to win a roster spot. But through four preseason games, he’s showing that he deserves a strong look. If the season started today he may he even part of the team.

Coming into Saturday’s contest, Coghlan had an assist and four shots on goal. His 54.9% Corsi was second to Jon Merrill among all Vegas defensemen and his 59.4 expected goals percentage was tops among the blue line.

He was solid again on Saturday, including strong positioning and stick-work batting the puck away on a Sharks 2-on-1 in the second period. He followed that up by intercepting a pass in the neutral zone and leading a rush. He finished with a 56.7% Corsi and 65.6% expected goals, the latter of which was best among team defensemen.

Goaltending depth chart decided

If there was any question that Malcolm Subban was going to be Fleury’s backup, that ended Saturday morning. The Golden Knights waived goalies Garret Sparks and Oscar Dansk after strong preseason performances, setting them up to head to AHL Chicago if they go unclaimed.

Sparks pitched a shutout in Colorado on Tuesday and Dansk followed that up with a terrific performance against the Kings two days later. Should both clear waivers, it will provide the Golden Knights with good depth in the minors and capable replacements in Vegas if Fleury or Subban get injured.

Justin Emerson can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Justin on Twitter at twitter.com/@j15emerson.

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