Reilly Smith scored twice and the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 on Tuesday night.
The victory snapped a two-game skid for the Golden Knights and gave coach Peter DeBoer his 500th career win.
“It’s hard to put into words. You don’t remember the wins and losses,” DeBoer said. “You remember the people and the coaching staffs, the trainers, the doctors, the world-class players that we get a chance to work with every day. You feel fortunate that you’ve had a chance to work with the best league in the world. And in order to work for that long, you have to win some games. And have had a lot of people contribute to the fact that I’m still getting an opportunity to work.”
The milestone win came against the Golden Knights' chief rival since they entered the NHL in 2017. And what's more, DeBoer coached the Sharks for 4 1/2 seasons and took them to a Stanley Cup Final.
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“Appropriate it was against the Sharks, but not for the reasons people think,” said DeBoer, who is 500-368-119 since starting his NHL coaching career with Florida during the 2008-09 season. “Not because it’s our rival and the team I got fired from. Because there’s a group of men on that side that were a big part of those 500 wins for me, too, that I really enjoyed working with, and some people over there, too. I’ll remember this night for a bunch of reasons, including the opposition.
“When I reflect back on the 500th win I think what I’m gonna like the most, I think it was a Pete DeBoer-type game. We didn’t give them a lot. I thought we smothered them. Defensively we were really solid. We had the puck in the offensive zone. We looked dangerous all night.”
Vegas outshot the Sharks 31-17 and according to Natural Stat Trick, the Golden Knights held the advantage in high-danger chances 11-5.
It was one of the most complete games Vegas has played during a 2-4-1 slide since Feb. 9.
“We had a lot of time with the puck in the O-zone,” Smith said. “We probably didn’t create enough offense as we would have liked to, just because the time that we had. It shows that when we’re able to have a lot of puck possession, then have our D moving, then cutting in and out, it opens up a lot of space. I think that’s something we need to continue and continue to work on.”
Vegas is third in the Pacific Division with 64 points, one back of the Los Angeles Kings and six behind the front-running Calgary Flames.
The Sharks, meanwhile, continue to struggle with seven players on the injured list, an eighth nursing a whiplash injury, and starting goaltender James Reimer leaving Tuesday’s game after one period with a lower-body injury.
San Jose, which played its eighth game in 16 days, is 2-4-2 in that span.
“All the guys looked tired tonight,” coach Bob Boughner said. “No excuses, but we’ve played a lot of games over a short amount of days. It’s been a grind. We weren’t heavy and hard enough. They’re a rush team and we didn’t defend hard enough. We lost battles all over the D-zone tonight. There’s nothing I can say positive about the game tonight.”
With the game tied 1-all in the second period, Jonathan Marchessault fed Smith, who scored on a rush to put Vegas ahead.
Smith scored again in the third for his 22nd career multigoal game after Marchessault spun around near the blue line and sent the puck into the slot. William Karlsson was there to deflect it to Smith at the doorstep for a tap-in.
“I kind of panicked,” Marchessault admitted. "(San Jose defenseman Brent) Burns was coming really quick on me, so I just tried to get rid of the puck because it was danger zone for me. Karly made a nice tip to Reilly, good play.”
Keegan Kolesar also scored for Vegas. Robin Lehner returned after missing five games and made 16 saves.
Noah Gregor scored for San Jose. Reimer made 10 saves in the first period, and Zachary Sawchenko stopped 18 shots over the final two periods.
Kolesar beat Reimer in the first to give Vegas a 1-0 lead when he one-timed Brett Howden’s cross-ice pass. The Sharks tied the game early in the second after Nick Bonino whiffed on his shot and the puck bounced fortuitously to Gregor, who knocked it past Lehner.
NOTES: Boughner had no update on Reimer, but did say that Adin Hill is expected to practice with the team Thursday and could return this weekend. ... Lehner is one win short of 150 in his career. ... Vegas forward William Carrier played in his 300th career game.
Sharks: Host the Nashville Predators on Saturday.
Golden Knights: Host the Boston Bruins on Thursday.
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