Preview: Sharks at Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights' postseason ended in horrific fashion in the spring, courtesy of a controversial major penalty that resulted in four power-play goals as the San Jose Sharks rallied to an epic win in Game 7 of the teams' first-round series. Five-plus months removed from that overtime contest, the Pacific Division rivals renew acquaintances on Wednesday when they begin a home-and-home series with the season opener at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Jonathan Marchessault scored the tying goal with 47 seconds left in the third period before Barclay Goodrow converted in overtime to help San Jose rally from a 3-1 series deficit, a decision that has haunted Vegas throughout the summer. "Obviously, there's a lot of bad blood there," the 28-year-old Marchessault said. "It's going to be fun to start. It's a little convenient for the NHL that they put two games back-to-back for us." While the Golden Knights simmered over their early ouster, San Jose advanced to the Western Conference final before falling in six games to St. Louis -- although its sluggish six-game performance in the preseason (1-5-0) is cause for concern for new captain Logan Couture. "I hope we play a lot better. I wouldn't say worry is the word, but really hoping we find our game here. ... We need to play a lot better than that to beat this team here," Couture told the San Jose Mercury News.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVAS
ABOUT THE SHARKS (2018-19: 46-27-9, 2ND IN PACIFIC): Couture assumed the additional leadership responsibility after former captain Joe Pavelski left 13 seasons in San Jose in his rearview mirror and signed a three-year contract with Dallas. While the Sharks also saw the departures of Joonas Donskoi (Colorado) and Gustav Nyquist (Columbus), they handed an eight-year, $92 million contract to defenseman Erik Karlsson and four-year, $24 million deal for promising forward Timo Meier. When healthy, Karlsson forms a potent pair with fellow former Norris Trophy recipient Brent Burns while Meier joins the ageless Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl.
ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS (2018-19: 43-32-7, 3RD IN PACIFIC): Coach Gerard Gallant's charges are capable of keeping the scoreboard operator busy, primarily with Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith comprising one potent line while Mark Stone, Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty man the other. Offensive-minded defenseman Shea Theodore has moved on from a medical scare in the spring and appears poised for a breakout season. Three-time Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury finished fourth in the voting for the Vezina Trophy last season after securing eight shutouts, including a 33-save gem in a 6-0 romp against San Jose on Nov. 24.
1. San Jose LW Evander Kane will sit out both ends of the home-and-home series as well as Saturday's tilt in Anaheim after receiving a three-game suspension for physically abusing an official in Sunday's 5-1 setback versus Vegas.
2. Stone erupted for six goals and six assists -- including two each on the power play -- in the first-round series with the Sharks.
3. San Jose G Martin Jones rebounded from three straight dismal performances in the first-round series versus Vegas to record a 2.68 goals-against average over his final 16 playoff games.
PREDICTION: Golden Knights 3, Sharks 2