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preseason

5 things learned from Sept. 29 preseason games

Golden Knights set to continue rivalry with Sharks; fast start key for Aho, Hurricanes

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Taking a closer look at the players, teams and stories that are making headlines leading up to the start of the regular season Wednesday.

Here are five things we learned from the final NHL preseason games Sunday:

 

Golden Knights brace for Sharks

The Vegas Golden Knights enter the regular season on a high note after Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith and Jimmy Schuldt each had two points in a 5-1 win against the San Jose Sharks at T-Mobile Arena.

Marchessault had four points (two goals, two assists) in five games, tied for second on the Golden Knights with Smith and behind Max Pacioretty's 10 points (four goals, six assists) in four games. 

The game Sunday, played before a Golden Knights preseason record attendance of 18,131, had a combined 114 penalty minutes and showed that Vegas and San Jose are ready to add another chapter to their rivalry when they start the season at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday (10:30 p.m., NBCSN, TVAS).

"If we're talking about hockey, I thought we played well," Marchessault told the Las Vegas Sun. "It's always a big rivalry against us."

Video: SJS@VGK: Marchessault scores on brilliant solo effort

 

Sharks turn attention toward regular season

The Sharks are ready to move past their 1-5-0 preseason. They visit Vegas on Wednesday and conclude a home-and-home set with the Golden Knights at SAP Center on Friday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCA, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV).

"I hope we play a lot better," Sharks forward Logan Couture told the San Jose Mercury News. "I wouldn't say worry is the word, but really hoping we find our game here. It's a couple days away. We had a good practice the other day. Obviously tonight wasn't very good. I thought we did some things alright, but we need to play a lot better than that to beat this team here."

 

Capitals show intensity in finale

The Washington Capitals ramped up the intensity in a 4-3 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, the team that beat them in the Eastern Conference First Round last season, at PNC Arena in their preseason finale.

Forwards T.J. Oshie and Jakub Vrana each scored two goals and Braden Holtby made 28 saves for Washington, which finished 5-1-0 in the preseason and impressed coach Todd Reirden with a physical performance ahead of the season opener Wednesday night against the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

"It definitely was not a normal preseason game," Reirden told the Capitals website. "There was a lot of emotion and from both teams, the building was really live, a full building, and obviously what went on last year with our teams. I liked our compete today. I liked how we stuck together as a group. We did some good things.

"I like when our team plays with that type of physical element, and we're pretty tough to play against."

Video: WSH@CAR: Oshie taps home feed from Stephenson

 

Aho, Hurricanes eye fast start

Sebastian Aho and the Hurricanes know a fast start to the season is important for both player and team. Slow starts plagued the center in the past before he had 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 12 October games last season, when he finished with NHL career-highs in goals (30), assists (53) and points (83), and a team-leading 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It was a breakthrough season for Aho and the Hurricanes, who advanced to the Eastern Conference Final and hope Aho's two-goal game against the Capitals is a sign of even better days after matching the five-year, $42.27 million offer sheet given to the 22-year-old forward by the Montreal Canadiens on July 1.

"We're banking on it, right? That's kind of literal," coach Rod Brind'Amour told the Hurricanes website. "He's our best offensive player. We need him to be on the scoresheet every night."

 

Jets evaluate young center in Scheifele's absence

The Winnipeg Jets signed restricted free agent forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor last week, ahead of their season opener against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; MSG, TSN3, NHL.TV). 

They're also hopeful Mark Scheifele will be good to go after the center missed a 5-4 overtime victory against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center with a sore back. 

"His back tightened up in practice [Saturday]," coach Paul Maurice said, "so we kicked him out and said you're not playing."

Scheifele's absence allowed the Jets to evaluate center David Gustafsson between Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers. The 19-year-old played 13:24 and was 7-for-15 (47 percent) on face-offs.

"We're just really excited about this young player, so what we've seen tonight we think we've seen enough to know he understands the game," Maurice told the Jets website. "He picks up his reads and he's got a really good defensive stick and he battles hard. So that's most of the components of a real good defensive player but we think there's something more."

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