Sharks, Knights face off trying to end losing streaks
Seven has become the unluckiest number for the struggling San Jose Sharks.
The streaky Sharks lost their season-high seventh straight game on Thursday night, mounting a big rally but losing 5-4 to the Chicago Blackhawks.
As the regular season winds down, coach Pete DeBoer's squad needs to right the ship if it wants to catch the Pacific Division-leading Calgary Flames -- or at least stay in second place ahead of Vegas and have home-ice advantage in the playoffs over the Golden Knights.
The Sharks (43-25-9) host Vegas on Saturday night. The Golden Knights have won two of the three meetings between the teams this season.
While San Jose has been handed loss after loss (0-6-1) since their last win in Winnipeg on March 12, Vegas has closed the gap on the Sharks in the Pacific.
The Sharks are eight points back of first-place Calgary, but third-place Vegas failed to clip its deficit even shorter. San Jose is still five points ahead of the Golden Knights, last season's Western Conference champions, who lost 3-2 to the Minnesota Wild on Friday.
San Jose's previous longest losing streak was four games, from Nov. 24 to Dec. 1, which began with a 6-0 loss in Vegas in the teams' first match.
DeBoer cited his team's chronic problem of late -- a lack of discipline.
"Penalty trouble got us early, and again, same story. We're chasing the game the rest of the night," DeBoer said. "It's one of those times now when everything that can go wrong is going wrong for us, and we got to fight through it."
Vegas (42-30-6) has gone 8-4-1 in March to anchor a spot among the top three in the Pacific Division, plus the Golden Knights became the fifth Western Conference club to clinch a playoff spot after Arizona's 3-2 shootout loss to the Avalanche in Colorado on Friday.
Much of Vegas' future success likely hinges on the productive play at both ends of the ice by Mark Stone, known for his complete 200-foot game.
Obtained from the Ottawa Senators before the Feb. 25 trade deadline, the Winnipeg native has set a career mark with his best offensive output, amassing 72 points this season.
In 15 games since joining the sophomore Golden Knights, the right winger has been steady in the offensive end. He has 10 points (four goals, six assists) and had a six-game point streak from March 6 to March 18.
Stone said he gets the importance of the standings and facing a good divisional rival like the Sharks.
"I think we understand that if we want to have success not only now but going forward into the playoffs and comfortably securing a spot in the playoffs, we're going to have to beat San Jose and Calgary," Stone said recently.
The loss to Minnesota was the fourth straight for the Golden Knights (0-3-1), who slipped to 23-11-5 in Las Vegas, and Paul Stastny scored both goals.
Left winger Max Pacioretty returned to the lineup after missing three games, but goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was out for the seventh consecutive game. Backup Malcolm Subban had his career home record slide to 13-2-1.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 30, 2019