Alex Pietrangelo and Keegan Kolesar scored in the first period, Marc-Andre Fleury earned his 67th career shutout and the Vegas Golden Knights finished the regular season with a 6-0 victory Wednesday night on the San Jose Sharks that keeps them alive in the race for the division title.
“We played from match 1 straight to the final buzzer of match 56 and withdrew our very best record on the board,” trainer Peter DeBoer said. “Hopefully it is enough for the first. When it is not, I am still very pleased with the regular season we had.”
Vegas matched Colorado’s triumph over Los Angeles and remains two points ahead of the Avalanche from the West Division and to get the top mark in the NHL.
The Golden Knights will have to wait until then to ascertain whether they’ll play third-place Minnesota or fourth-place St. Louis in the first round of the playoffs.
“Hopefully we get just a little luck and have a big game from LA and complete ,” ahead Jonathan Marchessault said. “If not, I believed our good season was good overall. Regardless of who we play at the first round, I believe our team is prepared for the playoffs.”
Dylan Sikura scored twice in the next phase, and William Carrier and Marchessault also believed to assist Vegas complete a sweep of the eight-game season series against the Sharks.
San Jose missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons from the first since 1996 and’97 with just 49 points in 56 games.
They were totally outplayed by a motivated Golden Knights, getting outshout 35-13 at the first two phases and giving little help to rookie goalie Alexei Melnichuk. Melnichuk made 38 saves in his second career start.
“Let’s be fair, we played with a great hockey team and we weren’t very good in any way,” coach Bob Boughner said. “We didn’t get a crazy quantity of assistance. I don’t put a lot of the on him.”
The Golden Knights didn’t take long to jump on top of the Sharks by scoring twice in the opening eight minutes.
Pietrangelo obtained a loose puck in front and conquer Melnichuk for the first target and Kolesar added to the lead when he converted a rally.
Vegas didn’t let up from there and put the game out of reach with the goals from Carrier and Marchessault in the second period.
“In This Kind of game like that, you need to get out the will out of the competition as quickly as you can, and we did,” Marchessault stated,
Sharks forward Patrick Marleau got some gifts in what could have been his final game with the franchise. His teammates gave him a customized painting and Gordie Howe to honor Marleau’s busting Howe’s NHL all-times matches played record last month. At the request of the Howe family, Marleau also was given the pole Howe used in his final NHL game which was displayed at the Hall of Fame. That rod is going to be substituted in the Hall with a pole Marleau utilized in the record-setting game.
Marleau was the final player to leave the ice and recognized the little crowd on hand for its final match of the season.
“If it’s his last game in the NHL, I am happy I had a front row seat for it,” said DeBoer, who coached Marleau in San Jose. “Happy I had the opportunity to coach him for a couple of years at San Jose. As great a player as he is and as accomplished a hockey player he’s, he is a better person, a better father and a better man.”
The 41-year-old Marleau will be a free agent this offseason and the Sharks might look to go in a younger direction next season.
Golden Knights: Waiting to find out their playoff competition.