Streaking Knights rout Sharks, clinch playoff berth

Jonathan Marchessault had two goals and two assists as the Vegas Golden Knights won their eighth consecutive game, defeating the San Jose Sharks 5-2 on Wednesday in Las Vegas to become the first NHL team to clinch a playoff berth this season.

The Golden Knights improved to 7-0-0 against the Sharks with only the teams’ regular-season finale, May 12 in San Jose, remaining in the season series.

Mark Stone, Alex Tuch and Mattias Janmark also scored for the Golden Knights, and Janmark added an assist. Vegas’ Shea Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves for his third consecutive win.

Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl tallied goals for San Jose while Josef Korenar made 35 saves in his second NHL start. The Sharks took their seventh defeat in a row (0-6-1).

First-place Vegas (33-11-2, 68 points) leads the second-place Colorado Avalanche (30-9-4, 64 points) by four points in the West Division. San Jose (18-23-5, 41 points) is four points back of the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes (20-22-5, 45 points) for West’s last playoff position.

Meier opened up scoring by posting up in the blue paint and tapping in Joel Kellman’s shot to put San Jose put 1-0 at 2:38 in the first period.

Marchessault tied the game at 1-1 by wrapping the puck around Korenar’s leg at 6:51 of the opening frame.

The tie held for the majority of the second period until Hertl got a hold of Patrick Marleau’s rebound and his cross-ice shot eluded Fleury to make it 2-1 at 11:07.

The Golden Knights went on a power play a minute later, and Stone capitalized to tie the game 2-2 at 12:52.

Vegas then gained momentum after killing off a penalty, and Theodore set up Tuch to beat Korenar up high and give Vegas a 3-2 lead 50 seconds before the end of the period.

Vegas capitalized on a turnover that led to Marchessault’s second goal at 13:18 of the third period, giving the Knights the 4-2 cushion. Marchessault, who has 13 goals on the season, ended a six-game goal drought.

Janmark buried an empty-netter with 56 seconds left to cap the scoring. It was his first goal for Vegas after arriving from the Chicago Blackhawks in a trade last week.

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