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game recap

Golden Knights top Sharks, clinch Pacific Division

Karlsson's highlight-reel goal helps Vegas reach 50 wins

by Danny Webster / NHL.com Correspondent

LAS VEGAS -- The Vegas Golden Knights clinched the Pacific Division in their inaugural season after defeating the San Jose Sharks 3-2 at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday.

Vegas is the third team this season to win 50 games (50-22-7) and is guaranteed home-ice advantage for the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It's great. It's a great feeling to win our division," Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. "Obviously, nobody had those expectations at the beginning of the season, but as we know, our team grew on everybody. We've worked hard all season long, but we all know what the real accomplishment is supposed to be. It's all about the playoffs."

 

[WATCH: All Sharks vs. Golden Knights highlights]

The Golden Knights became the first modern-era expansion team from any of the four North American professional sports leagues to start from scratch and finish first in its division (excluding mergers and all-expansion divisions), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

William Karlsson scored the go-ahead goal shorthanded at 8:35 of the third period, his 42nd of the season, tying him with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin for third in the NHL. Shea Theodore and Oscar Lindberg also scored for Vegas, which is four points behind the Nashville Predators for first place in the Western Conference. Nashville has one game in hand.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves for his 403rd NHL win, moving him into 11th place on the League's all-time list.

Karlsson's highlight-reel goal gave Vegas a 3-2 lead when he skated in alone, put the puck between his skates and roofed a shot over Martin Jones.

"I don't really look at it that way," Karlsson said on his goal clinching the division. "It was more of getting the two points. To do it on a special night like this, it's good timing.

"I was more focused on me, putting myself in a great position. [Jones] pulled, luckily, so he kind of let his guard down on the short side and gave me room to shoot."

Video: SJS@VGK: Lindberg deflects Theodore's shot for goal

Joe Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored for the Sharks (44-25-10), who needed a win to clinch a playoff berth. San Jose holds a four-point lead on the Los Angeles Kings for second place in the Pacific.

"The good news is we've set ourselves up to finish this season off with three home games and an opportunity to clinch home-ice advantage, which is something that's been a goal of ours from Day One," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "So, we'll sweep this one under the rug and get ready for the next one."

Theodore scored at 2:21 of the first period to give the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead.

Pavelski tied it 1-1 at 7:14 of the first period.

Lindberg scored for the first time since Dec. 23, his third game back from an undisclosed injury, at 3:03 of the second period to give Vegas a 2-1 lead.

San Jose tied it 2-2 at 9:50 of the second, when Vlasic scored.

"Just not a good enough game to win," DeBoer said. "If you're going to come in here and win at this rink this time of year, you're going to have to bring your 'A-plus' game, and I thought we played a 'B' game. We probably got what we deserved."

Jones made 35 saves.

"The fans deserve it," Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch said. "They've been unbelievable all year. They've supported us no matter what the outcome is. It's been really fun to play in front of them, and I wouldn't want to do it any other way."

Video: SJS@VGK: Pavelski puts home rebound in the 1st

 

Goal of the game

Karlsson's goal at 8:35 of the third period.

Video: SJS@VGK: Karlsson nets amazing between-the-legs goal

 

Save of the game

Fleury's string of saves at 16:15 of the second period.

Video: SJS@VGK: Fleury shuts the door on Donskoi, Braun

 

Highlight of the game

Theodore's goal at 2:21 of the first period.

Video: SJS@VGK: Theodore fires wrist shot by Jones

 

They said it

"It definitely gives them momentum. You can see when the building's rocking and they're feeding off it, but that's going to be every building in the playoffs. You've got to find ways to stop that momentum." -- Sharks forward Chris Tierney

 

"It's all about points. You never know what the scenarios are going to be down the road. We have to get as many points as we can." -- Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant

 

Need to know

Only five players have scored more goals than Karlsson while playing on a team in its inaugural season: Blaine Stoughton (56 for the 1979-80 Hartford Whalers), Wayne Gretzky (51 for the 1979-80 Edmonton Oilers), Blair MacDonald (46 for the 1979-80 Oilers), Mike Rogers (44 for the 1979-80 Whalers) and Joe Malone (44 for the 1917-18 Montreal Canadiens). ... Before the game, the Golden Knights unveiled a banner to retire the No. 58, honoring the victims who died in the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas. … Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi got an assist in his 200th NHL game. … Golden Knights forward David Perron missed his third straight game with what Gallant called a "minor injury." … Vegas forward Jonathan Marchessault, playing in his 200th NHL game, saw his seven-game point streak end.

 

What's next

Sharks: Host the Dallas Stars on Tuesday (10:30 p.m. ET; SN1, NBCSCA+, FS-SW+, NHL.TV)

Golden Knights: At the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET; SNP, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Golden Knights edge Sharks, clinch Pacific title

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