San Jose at Vegas
When: 10:00 PM ET, Thursday, April 26, 2018
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
Only two teams swept their first-round postseason series, but one of those streaks will end Thursday night when the expansion Vegas Golden Knights host the San Jose Sharks in the opener of their Western Conference semifinal. Vegas allowed three goals to Los Angeles in its half of the Pacific Division derby while San Jose manhandled Anaheim, outscoring the Ducks 16-4.
The Golden Knights rely on a raucous crowd at T-Mobile Arena and were dominant against Pacific opponents, finishing 20-6-3 in division play and winning three of four matchups (3-0-1) against the Sharks that included three one-goal decisions. "I think they’re a lot like us," Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt said of San Jose. "A very balanced, quick team that can play a lot of different ways. They can play a heavy game or a fast game. All of our games have been really good games. No team dominated the other." The Sharks were the most impressive team in the first round of the playoffs, opening with two wins in Anaheim before rolling up eight goals in Game 3, and expect to handle the atmosphere at T-Mobile better than they did in the regular season. "We might have taken them for granted the first time," defenseman Justin Braun said. "I think a couple times there you kind of get used to the mindset. It's a little different. At this time of your season you have it dialed in and not looking at the bright lights as much."TV:
10 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, TVASABOUT THE SHARKS:
San Jose will be able to counter Vegas' four lines thanks to the trade-deadline acquisition of forward Evander Kane, who had nine goals in 17 regular-season games with the Sharks before scoring three times in the first round on the top line with captain Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi. Logan Couture scored a team-high 34 goals during the regular season and has 74 points in 90 career postseason games, including a playoff-high 30 in leading San Jose to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016. Goaltender Martin Jones was outstanding against Anaheim but posted a 1-2-0 mark with a 3.32 goals-against average and .899 save percentage versus Vegas.ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS:
Marc-Andre Fleury had plenty of playoff experience as part of three Stanley Cup-winning teams with the Pittsburgh Penguins and was unflappable against the Kings with four one-goal victories, including a pair of 1-0 shutouts and a 2-1 overtime win. Vegas managed only seven goals against Los Angeles but featured four players with at least 25 goals during the regular season, led by William Karlsson, who pumped in a team-high 43 tallies and scored four times to go with an assist in the four matchups against San Jose. Reilly Smith had a team-high three points in the first round after missing the last two meetings versus the Sharks.OVERTIME
1. Sharks F Joe Thornton (knee), sidelined since Jan. 23, could return in the series but has been ruled out for Game 1.
2. Golden Knights F James Neal, a 25-goal scorer during the regular season, has 14 tallies and 10 assists in 31 games versus San Jose.
3. Pavelski had three goals and five points during the season series against Vegas.PREDICTION:
Sharks 3, Golden Knights 2
Stats and Records