The bass bumped extra hard during warmups, the shirtless youngsters in the crowd waved their lavender Hockey Fights Cancer bandanas, and the Golden Knights were buzzing from the opening faceoff.
It was like old times Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.
William Karlsson scored the fastest goal in franchise history, and the Knights finally looked like the team that advanced to last year’s Stanley Cup Final with a 6-0 shellacking of first-place San Jose.
Max Pacioretty added two goals, and Marc-Andre Fleury ignited the announced crowd of 18,252 with his league-best fifth shutout during a rare start in the second game of a back-to-back.
“It was good. Two games in two nights against division rivals, games that mean a lot right now,” Fleury said. “I think I was feeling good, relaxed, composed, maybe a little lucky here and there.”
The Knights matched their longest win streak with their third straight victory and moved into a tie with Anaheim for third place in the Pacific Division with 25 points.
Karlsson’s record-breaking goal came 14 seconds in when Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell made the initial stop on Brayden McNabb’s wrist shot from the point, but the rebound bounced off the inside of Karlsson’s shin pad and trickled in.
The previous mark for the fastest goal in the team’s brief history was 35 seconds set by Jonathan Marchessault in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against Winnipeg.
Karlsson also held the record for fastest goal in the regular season when he scored after 55 seconds against Los Angeles on Nov. 19, 2017.
“We had a lot of fun, getting the crowd in it early. First-shift goal,” Pacioretty said. “I think we deserved that bounce and the other ones we got for how we’ve played as of late. We were able to roll a bit, and even when the game got chippy, we kind of blocked that out and stuck with our game.
“We got pucks behind them and made life hard on them.”
Fleury made 33 saves for his fourth shutout in the past five home games and is riding a scoreless streak of 142:48 at T-Mobile Arena.
It was his 53rd career shutout, tying Pekka Rinne for 23rd all time.
Defenseman Deryk Engelland made a sliding block on Joonas Donskoi in the final 30 seconds to help keep San Jose off the scoreboard.
“I think we gave up a little many chances, but we didn’t want to bore him back there,” defenseman Colin Miller said. “He did a great job.”
Miller and Alex Tuch each had a goal and an assist, and William Carrier also scored to help the Knights match their season high in goals and climb back to .500.
The Sharks started Dell after his 4-0 victory over Vancouver on Friday, but the move backfired as the Knights scored on three of their first seven shots.
Miller gave the Knights a 2-0 lead at 4:40 when he stepped into a pass from Reilly Smith at the right faceoff circle and sent a rocket past Dell.
Pacioretty accounted finished off the onslaught and registered his second two-goal game in his past three outings. He also had two goals, including the overtime winner, at Arizona on Wednesday.
Pacioretty ripped a one-timer past Dell on a power play at 9:29, then pounced on a loose puck during a delayed penalty with 3:32 left in the first after Dell poked away the puck from Tuch.
After scoring twice in his first 16 games, Pacioretty has six goals in the past five games, and his eight goals are tied with Cody Eakin for second on the team.
“When we were losing from lack of scoring and the puck wasn’t going in for me, you obviously take that on your shoulders,” Pacioretty said. “Nights like tonight, it’s definitely a group effort. We like the way all of our lines feel about their games right now and how we’re matching up with our opponents.”
1. Rare breakthrough. Max Pacioretty’s power-play goal in the first period deserves a bit more context because it came against one of the top penalty kills in the league. San Jose had allowed two power-play goals in its previous 19 games (48-for-50) dating to Oct. 11 and had not allowed a power-play goal in their previous eight games.
2. Carrier stays hot. William Carrier showed his speed in the second period, blowing by Barclay Goodrow before slipping in a backhander for the Knights’ fifth goal. The 23-year-old winger leads the NHL in hits but now has four goals, one off his career high.
3. Steaming Sharks. San Jose forward Evander Kane lost his cool at 15:41 of the second period. Kane hollered at referee Kyle Rehman after his second minor penalty and received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, a 10-minute misconduct for abuse of officials and a game misconduct. Sharks coach Peter DeBoer was ejected less than a minute later.
David Schoen Review-Journal