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Sharks will play Golden Knights in Western Conference First Round

San Jose finishes second in Pacific, Vegas third

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

The San Jose Sharks will play the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

San Jose (46-27-9) finished second in the Pacific Division and will have home-ice advantage in the best-of-7 series. Vegas (43-32-7) finished third after winning the division in its inaugural season in 2017-18.

"It's a great matchup," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "There are no easy opponents at this time of the year. It's an accomplishment to make the playoffs and it's an accomplishment to have home-ice. We've got to use that."

San Jose went 2-2-0 (outscored 18-10) against Vegas this season.

Jonathan Marchessault had six points (two goals, four assists), and William Karlsson had five points (three goals, two assists) in the four games for Vegas. Marc-Andre Fleury started two games, going 1-1-0 with a 1.54 goals-against average, .950 save percentage and one shutout. Malcolm Subban started the other two games, going 1-0-1 with a 3.49 GAA and .904 save percentage.

Logan Couture had four points (two goals, two assists), and Brent Burns and Tomas Hertl each had three points for San Jose in the four games. Martin Jones started three games and went 2-0-0 with a 3.62 GAA and .893 save percentage. Aaron Dell went 0-2-0 and made 30 saves in a 6-0 loss in his only start against the Golden Knights on Nov. 24.

Mark Stone, who was traded to the Golden Knights by the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 25, said he can't wait for the series to start. 

"It's what I wanted. It's part of the reason why I'm here," Stone said. "I wanted to play for a competitive team and a team that had a chance to win right now. Being in the prime of my career, I want to be playing meaningful hockey games. This team has given me the opportunity to do that and I'm excited to go into the playoffs with this group."

This will be the second time the teams have faced each other in the playoffs. The Golden Knights defeated the Sharks in six games in the Western Conference Second Round last season. Vegas went on to reach the Stanley Cup Final, losing to the Washington Capitals in five games.

"Obviously we don't like each other. That's how it is," Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch said. "I see us as rivals. I see it as an exciting and entertaining matchup, for sure. I'd say it's safe to say [they're our biggest rivals].

"Right now, we're second and third in the division, there's a little bit of tension when we play. It's a good rival for us."

San Jose's only trip to the Cup Final came in 2016, when it lost in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Sharks are 1-7-1 in their past nine games and had a season-low 15 shots in a 5-3 loss against the Flames.

"We have three games left to figure things out," Couture said." They're a good team. It's going to be a challenge. We haven't been playing well. It seems like we're stuck in mud the last three weeks."

Video: Golden Knights topple Sharks in six, advance to WCF

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