PREVIEW: Vegas Golden Knights carry 5-game win streak into rematch with Sharks

Mar 5, 2021; San Jose, California, USA; Vegas Golden Knights left wing Max Pacioretty (67) celebrates with right wing Mark Stone (61) after scoring the game winning goal against the San Jose Sharks during the overtime period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to overtime, the Vegas Golden Knights want to make sure Max Pacioretty is on the ice.

Pacioretty scored his second goal of the night and his third overtime winner of the season Friday, leading the Golden Knights to a 5-4 victory over the host San Jose Sharks in the opener of a two-game series.

The teams meet again Saturday night in San Jose.

Pacioretty’s winner bailed out Vegas goaltender Oscar Dansk, whose late gaffe sent the game to the extra session.

“You have to have the mindset that you’re going to attack on the three-on-three,” Pacioretty said of overtime. “If you don’t take many chances, you won’t create much and end up in your own end.”

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The Golden Knights earned a fifth consecutive victory to remain one point ahead of St. Louis atop the West Division standings. Vegas has four games in hand on the Blues.

Despite rallying from a three-goal deficit to force overtime and get a point, the Sharks dropped to 1-3-1 to start their seven-game homestand.

“We played hard,” San Jose captain Logan Couture said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get two (points), but happy we got one.”

Dansk, who was making his season debut after Marc-Andre Fleury had started the previous 10 games, earned his first NHL victory since he beat the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 27, 2017. He has played in just six NHL games over parts of three season.

However, the latest win didn’t almost didn’t happen.

The Sharks tied the score at 4-4 with 1:07 remaining in regulation on a wild play.

The sequence started with Brent Burns trying to connect with Kevin Labanc on a long pass from deep in his own end. The puck kicked off the skate of Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez near the middle of the rink and bounced high into the air, in the direction of Vegas’ net.

Read More: RECAP: Max Pacioretty, Vegas Golden Knights top Sharks in OT

Dansk attempted to knock the bouncing puck away from danger but missed, allowing the puck to skim off the bottom of his stick. Labanc, driving hard to the net, saw the puck hit his stick and then Dansk’s paddle before rolling across the goal line.

“We told (Dansk) not to worry about it,” Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “Stuff happens. Breakdowns happen. It’s how you pick him up. … I love to see guys like that get rewarded.”

Alex Tuch scored for the sixth time in as many games for Vegas, and Reilly Smith and Chandler Stephenson also tallied. Mark Stone was credited with two assists.

Brent Burns, Matt Nieto and Couture scored in addition to Labanc for the Sharks, and Erik Karlsson had two assists.

Sharks forward Joachim Blichfeld started serving his two-game suspension Friday for an illegal check to the head of Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon on Wednesday. He also will miss the Saturday game.

The Sharks were playing just their seventh game of the season at SAP Center after being forced to play their opening 10 games on the road because of coronavirus restrictions in Santa Clara County, Calif.

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San Jose forward Marcus Sorensen was placed on the COVID-19 list before Friday’s game. He is the second Sharks player on the list, as forward Tomas Hertl has been sidelined since Feb. 24.

–Field Level Media