History was made on Monday night inside the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas. As the bitter rivalry between the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights resumed for the sixth time this season.
All issues were set aside for a brief moment, as Sharks forward Patrick Marleau broke one of the NHL’s most prestigious records. Marleau, played in his 1,768th NHL game breaking all-time great Gordie Howe’s record for most games played.
Marleau, in his second stint as a Shark has played 21 seasons at the sports highest level. After being the 1997 second overall pick, Marleau played 19 straight seasons in San Jose before a small three year run with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Marleau would also have an eight-game career with the Pittsburgh Penguins before heading back to San Jose. An absolute class-act was displayed by the Knights paying tribute to the league's iron man, Patrick Marleau.
With the monumental achievement for Marleau still came a job for both the Sharks and the Golden Knights. In the first period Vegas had a chance on two power-plays.
On the first power-play the Golden Knights saw one major opportunity, an Alex Tuch chance from a wrist shot turned away. Followed by the first of many scrambles in front of the net of Sharks goaltender, Martin Jones.
San Jose would then strike first, as defenseman Nikolia Knyzhov fired a blast from the edge of the blue line finding a place in the net behind Robin Lenher. This marker being Knyzhov’s second of the year.
Vegas would then find themselves on the second power-play of the period. Mattias Janmark making his first start as a Golden Knight, fired at Jones to be rejected and once again another scramble in front of the net was cleared away by the San Jose penalty kill.
Chances remained equal at 11 inside the first period, a breakaway chance for Marleau was turned aside by Lenher. Later, Lenher received help from the crossbar as Logan Couture set up Evander Kane whose backhander took a Vegas bounce and away from the crease.
Shark winger Noah Gregor was moved to the first line in this game. Gregor made his presence felt by striking early in the second period, his fourth goal of the year gave the Sharks 2-0 lead.
The lead was short lived for San Jose, as another penalty was called on Rudolf Balcers. San Jose is the most penalised team in the league and although the first two chances for Vegas were all for not, San Jose could not go three-for-three on penalty kills.
Shea Theodore sent a drive from the blue line, to be tipped in by Mark Stone, cutting the lead in half. This was Stone’s 16th goal of the year, while also his first of two on the night.
As the period progressed, Jones highlighted the majority of the action. Sprawling saves, scrambles and gliding post to post prevented Vegas from more than just tying the game but likely commanding the lead.
San Jose went onto the power-play for the first time in the game later in the second period. To only display only two shots from the stick of Erik Karlsson.
The Golden Knights penalty kill led to a huge shift in energy inside the barn. Vegas started to create far more pressure in the offensive zone, outshooting San Jose by seven more shots.
An outstanding chance from both William Carrier and Nicolas Roy, was turned away in desperation by Jones. As San Jose was able to hold onto their one goal lead heading into the third period.
Stone was NHL’s third star of the week last week and he carried his outstanding play into this week. Scoring the tying goal early in the third period, for another power-play goal, also his 17th of the year.
From that moment on, the game remained tooth and nail. Much like all Sharks and Knights games, the margin for error was very slim.
In the final 20 minutes both goaltenders had to stand on their heads, as each team had terrific chances to take the lead. Lenher had flashed the glove to rob Timo Mier of the lead and Jones had done the same down the other end of the ice.
The tightly remaining contest could not be decided in regulation. The game had boiled over into overtime.
A roller coaster of emotions inside the building, as Vegas had Stone on a one-one with Jones to be stuffed by the pad. Lenher, then had to face multiple two-on-ones, some would miss wide, others Lenher would get a blocker on it.
A result would not be found inside the extra five minutes. Pushing the game to a shoot-out.
San Jose sent Marleau out as the first shooter. He attempted to go five-hole on Lenher but the pads remained closed.
Alex Tuch led off for the Knights in the shoot-out. As he beat Jones on the glove side, to give Vegas the advantage.
Ryan Donoato, made multiple moves and had Lenher beat low on the stick side. Yet, Lenher stuffed the low iron and protected the twine.
Chandler Stephenson, attempted to take Jones top-shelf. But went wayward, Jones nicked the puck with the top of the stick.
Sharks captain Logan Couture, made his way out for a chance to take the shoot-out into extras. Couture, like Donoato went to stuff the biscuit low but was turned away by Lenher, leaving San Jose blanked in the shoot-out.
There surely were bundles of emotion in this affair. This season's series has been dominated by Vegas now leading 6-0, yet this one felt much like the playoff games of years past between the two teams.
Obviously, could have had something to do with the importance of what Marleau had achieved personally and for the entire game of hockey. Also, the fact that Vegas rolled in on a six-game win streak and San Jose on a five game losing streak.
Somebody was looking to either build momentum or keep some going. Even if these two squads are leaps and bounds away in the standings.
Vegas, now moves to 32-11-2 and two points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche in first place of the Honda West Division. This victory over San Jose marks their seventh consecutive.
For the Sharks, they’ve now dropped six straight and are sitting at 18-22-5. San Jose is four points out of the final spot in the playoffs, as the top four teams in each division will make the postseason this year.
Ahead of the Sharks, are the St. Louis Blues and Arizona Coyotes. Vegas, will look to extend their lead of first on Wednesday night as they will host San Jose again at 7:00 PM.