Preview: Golden Knights at Sharks
The San Jose Sharks were inundated with constant questions about the availability of Erik Karlsson throughout his injury-riddled first season with the team in 2018-19. An undisclosed personal matter is now on the plate of the two-time Norris Trophy recipient, clouding his availability for Friday's finale of the home-and-home series versus the visiting Vegas Golden Knights.
"I can't share anything, and I don't know," coach Peter DeBoer said in regard to the status of the 29-year-old Karlsson, who was replaced by fellow defenseman Tim Heed in the lineup in San Jose's 4-1 season-opening setback to Vegas. Heed practiced with Karlsson's traditional defensive partner Brenden Dillon on Thursday in perhaps a sign of things to come as the Sharks follow up their contest against the Golden Knights with the opener of a three-game road trip at Anaheim on Saturday. Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves to secure his NHL record-tying 10th win in season openers, although the three-time Stanley Cup champion was more than willing to deflect the praise after Vegas improved to 6-1-2 all-time against San Jose in the regular season. "I think our team played an awesome game from start to finish and I didn't have to do too much back there," said the 34-year-old Fleury, who is in line to make his 800th career appearance on Saturday.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, AT&T SportsNet-Rocky Mountains, NBCS California (San Jose)
ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS (1-0-0): Although Vegas gained a sliver of revenge following its controversial first-round series loss to San Jose last spring, those positive feelings were knocked down a few pegs after the team learned that defenseman Nate Schmidt is considered week-to-week following a knee-on-knee collision with San Jose captain Logan Couture. "He's one of our best defensemen, he plays a lot of minutes. It's a big loss for us," Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. "Hopefully it's not too long and he'll be back. But it gives somebody an opportunity to play." That somebody likely will be blue-liner Nicolas Hague, who was recalled from Chicago of the American Hockey League prior to the opener and could make his NHL debut on Saturday.
ABOUT THE SHARKS (0-1-0): Marcus Sorensen provided the lone bright spot for San Jose after scoring midway into the first period, and nearly again in the second before that tally was overturned for a high stick. The 27-year-old Swede's goal was his first versus Vegas after being limited to just two assists in 11 games (playoffs included) last season. Couture got off on the right foot after notching a career-high 70 points last season and a point-per-game over 20 playoff contests by registering an assist on Sorensen's goal.
1. Vegas RW Reilly Smith scored twice in the season opener after torching San Jose for seven points (one goal, six assists) in three regular-season meetings in 2018-19.
2. San Jose RWs Timo Meier (wrist) and Kevin Labanc (face) are expected to be in the lineup Saturday despite exiting the opener with their respective injuries, DeBoer said.
3. Golden Knights C Cody Glass (20 years, 184 days old) converted in the second period to become the youngest player in franchise history to score a goal.
PREDICTION: Golden Knights 3, Sharks 2