Sharks vs Golden Knights Live : The Sharks got off to a strong start and didn’t take their foot off the gas on their way to a 5-2 victory over the Golden Knights in Game. It may be the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, and the Vegas Golden Knights are only in their second season. Evander Kane and Marc-Edouard Vlasic each record a goal and an assist as San Jose Sharks top Vegas Golden Knights.
The San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights will square off in a matchup that may well go down as the best of the entire 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs. Who will win? Let’s break it down:
How they got here: They didn’t get it done until September, but the Sharks landed the prize of the NHL offseason in defenseman Erik Karlsson, giving them two of the league’s premiere offensive blueliners along with Brent Burns. He joined a veteran team primed for a Stanley Cup run this season, with players like Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, pending unrestricted free agent Joe Pavelski and Evander Kane, who was acquired last season.
Gustav Nyquist was added to the group at the trade deadline, and the Sharks finished the season second in scoring at 3.52 goals per game. One problem: They were 21st in team defense at 3.15 goals allowed per game, with the worst team save percentage in the NHL (.889). Still, the Sharks finished 46-27-9 (101 points), second in the Pacific Division.
Right behind them were the Vegas Golden Knights (43-32-7, 93 points), last season’s expansion darlings who lost in the Stanley Cup Final. They upgraded in the offseason too, with free-agent center Paul Stastny and a trade for Max Pacioretty; and made an in-season blockbuster for Ottawa’s Mark Stone. But inconsistent play, some expected regression and injuries to key players (including goalie Marc-Andre Fleury) left the Knights stuck in third place in the Pacific.
First line: Last season’s dominating top trio for Vegas — Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith — couldn’t quite recapture the magic this season, with just a 50.65 goals-for percentage. The better line for Vegas might end up being Stone, Stastny and Pacioretty, which has played just 154 minutes together but has a goals-for percentage of 60.00 at 5-on-5. The Sharks, meanwhile, don’t have a consistent top line this season. Currently, the line of Couture, Pavelski and Timo Meier (who broke out with 30 goals) might qualify. Advantage: Golden Knights
Depth: The Knights return many of the supporting players who helped them thrive in the postseason last spring, including Alex Tuch (52 points), Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Reaves and Cody Eakin, who had a career year (41 points). The Sharks have players like Marcus Sorensen and Kevin Labanc flanking Joe Thornton, and Barclay Goodrow and Melker Karlsson among their depth players.
Get live NHL Stanley Cup playoff updates, news and analysis during Game 1 of the Sharks’ first-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at SAP Center.
The series is a rematch from last year’s second-round playoff series in which the then-expansion Golden Knights beat the Sharks in 6 games while advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals.