The Vegas Golden Knights will try to snap their first losing streak of the season on Friday night when they face the San Jose Sharks in Las Vegas.
The Golden Knights, tied with the Boston Bruins for the most points in the NHL with 23 thanks to a season-opening 12-game point streak, come in off back-to-back regulation losses on the road against the Anaheim Ducks (4-2 on Sunday) and at home against the Los Angeles Kings (4-1 on Wednesday).
It marks the first time since a three-game skid from Jan. 14-19 last season that Vegas lost back-to-back games in regulation.
“You never want to lose a couple in a row, but it’s going to happen at some point through the year,” Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We had a really good start and put ourselves in a good position where we don’t have to have this weigh us down at all. We’re a good enough team to overcome it.”
Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo added, “It’s only two games. It’s not like we’re on a big streak here. We’ve played some pretty good hockey. Still, we need to be better. No doubt about it. And I expect us to be on Friday.”
Both Cassidy and Pietrangelo believe the defending Stanley Cup champion Golden Knights were on wrong side of some bad puck luck in the defeat against the Kings.
Los Angeles took a 1-0 lead when Jordan Spence’s one-timer from the point caromed off Pietrangelo to the right side of the slot, where a wide-open Adrian Kempe easily buried the rebound. The Kings made it 3-1 early in the third period when Kempe’s shot bounced off the end boards right to Pierre-Luc Dubois, who poked it inside the left post.
“It’s tough when they get a couple of things that go their way, but you know what? We were getting those bounces when we won all those games in a row,” Pietrangelo said. “Sometimes the hockey gods are testing you. A good test these last couple of games for us.”
San Jose will be playing its third game in four nights after holding on to defeat the visiting Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Thursday.
The Sharks ended a NHL-record-tying, 11-game winless streak to start the season (0-10-1) with a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. They followed that up by edging the Oilers, a result that left San Jose and Edmonton tied for seventh place in the Pacific Division. The two teams have the fewest points in the NHL with five.
San Jose goalie Mackenzie Blackwood came up big in both wins, stopping a combined 77 of 80 shots. Those two efforts came after the Sharks were demolished in consecutive losses to the Vancouver Canucks (10-1 on Nov. 2) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (10-2 on Saturday).
“Everybody was ready to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge after the Pittsburgh loss,” San Jose coach David Quinn said. “But it’s 82 games. We didn’t get four losses for that loss. Pretty proud of our group to dust themselves off and show a lot of mental fortitude and toughness.”
“It’s really amazing,” said forward Tomas Hertl, who scored his second goal of the season to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead against the Oilers. “It was a tough stretch for the boys in the locker room, but the last two games we worked really hard and we got it done. Really proud of the group (to) just keep going.”
–Field Level Media