Sharks open road trip at Golden Knights
Vegas has the luxury of staying at home to play again, but the Golden Knights must face a team leading the NHL’s Pacific Division on consecutive days.
The Calgary Flames (13-9-1 with 27 points) entered Friday’s game against Vegas in first place. Marc-Andre Fleury posted his league-leading fourth shutout as the Golden Knights blanked Calgary 2-0 at T-Mobile Arena.
The Sharks (12-7-4 with 28 points) are now atop the Pacific Division after their 4-0 win over the visiting Vancouver Canucks on Friday night. They finished their six-game home stand with a 4-1-1 record and now embark on a five-game road trip.
“We had a good home stand when you look at the big picture of it,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. “We found a way to win some games and we did it in different ways, too. We tightened things up the last few games defensively. We’ve had some great goaltending … It was the special teams tonight (against Vancouver) with the power play (three goals scored).
“A lot of good stuff. It’s never perfect. We always want to be better. Heading out on to the road we’re going to have to be better to win. But overall I think we accomplished what we wanted to in this home stand.”
Thornton had two assists, moving him past Mario Lemieux for 11th place on the NHL list. The 39-year-old center scored his 400th goal on Nov. 13. He passed Lemieux with his 1,034th assist late in the first period when Timo Meier redirected his shot with 10 seconds remaining near the end of a four-minute double-minor on Derrick Pouliot for high sticking.
Thornton had another assist in the third period on Karlsson’s second goal of the season. His 1,035 assists include 750 with the Sharks.
Vegas (11-12-1 with 23 points) has climbed from the seventh to the fourth spot in the Pacific Division after a modest two-game winning streak. The Golden Knights have won consecutive games for the first time since winning three in a row from Oct. 13 to Oct. 20. They are 6-3-1 at home.
Fleury finished with 29 saves against Calgary, achieving his 52nd career shutout. He ranks 24th on NHL’s all-time list. He made amends after the Flames routed Vegas 7-2 on Monday in Calgary.
“Our goalie was real good tonight. He made three or four really good saves,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “We didn’t give up a ton of shots (29) but he played really well. I was happy with his performance.”
San Jose goalie Aaron Dell has also been impressive with consecutive shutouts in his last two starts.
Alex Tuch, playing in his 100th career NHL game, started the scoring with 3:51 left in the second period when he redirected Cody Eakin’s shot for his sixth goal. Tuch added an assist on Colin Miller’s goal –Miller’s first of the season — at 2:34 of the third period. Tuch has 10 points in his past nine games.
Of Miller’s first goal, Gallant said, “He’s hit about seven goal posts this year so definitely good for his confidence and good for our team.”