weather icon Clear

Golden Knights win, 3-2, clinch Pacific Division title

Updated April 1, 2018 - 1:03 am

A loud murmur rumbled through T-Mobile Arena during the third period Saturday night, as a season-high crowd of 18,458 wasn’t sure what they just witnessed.

When the replay of William Karlsson’s between-the-legs, breakaway goal was shown on the video scoreboard, the murmur turned into a massive roar.

“Unbelievable,” Knights defenseman Shea Theodore said. “I don’t know how he did that.”

Karlsson’s spectacular, go-ahead goal with 11:25 remaining lifted the Knights to a 3-2 victory over San Jose and clinched the Pacific Division title in style.

The Knights are the first modern-era expansion team from any of the four North American professional sports leagues to win its division in its inaugural season (excluding mergers and all-expansion divisions), according to Elias Sports Bureau.

“It’s a great feeling to win our division. Obviously nobody had those expectations at the first of the season, but as we know, our team grew on everybody and we played hard and we worked hard all season long,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “It’s a great accomplishment, but we all know what the real accomplishment would be. It’s all about the playoffs.”

Karlsson’s 42nd goal capped a memorable evening, as the Knights (50-22-7, 107 points) joined Tampa Bay and Nashville as the only teams with 50 wins.

With his team short-handed, Karlsson tapped the puck past San Jose defenseman Brent Burns at the Knights blue line to create a clean breakaway.

Karlsson avoided the pokecheck by Sharks goaltender Martin Jones and, with his stick tucked between his legs, lifted a shot into the top corner.

Karlsson is tied for third in the NHL in goals with Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, three behind leader Alex Ovechkin of Washington.

“I don’t know. I had a great spot to pull that move and what can I say? It went in,” Karlsson said. “It’s nothing you really practice, it just happens.

“It’s just instinct. When you black out, that’s usually when you do well. Don’t overthink it.”

Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves, including a key stop on San Jose’s Mikkel Boedker on the doorstep with 3:41 remaining. He passed Grant Fuhr for 11th on the all-time list with his 404th career victory.

The final home game of the regular season featured an emotional pregame ceremony honoring the victims and first responders from the Oct. 1 mass shooting on the Strip.

The team raised a “Vegas Strong” banner with 58 stars and the names of those who died and retired No. 58.

The Knights fed off the early energy and took the lead 2:21 into the first period. Deryk Engelland moved the puck to Karlsson in the right corner and he found Theodore, who capped the tic-tac-toe passing sequence with a wrist shot from the point for his sixth goal of the season.

San Jose withstood the early flurry from the Knights and tied the score at 7:14 of the first.

Joonas Donskoi hopped on a loose puck below the goal line and fed Timo Meier in the slot. Fleury kicked out Meier’s drive, but Joe Pavelski corralled the rebound and slid it in for his 21st goal of the season.

Oscar Lindberg, who returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing 14 straight games, put the Knights ahead 2-1 at 3:03 of the second period with his first goal since Dec. 23.

Ryan Reaves dished out a hard hit in the corner to force a poor clearance by San Jose’s Kevin Labanc. Theodore held the puck at the point, and Lindberg redirected his shot for his eighth of the season.

The Sharks answered midway through the second during a delayed penalty against the Knights. Defenseman Brayden McNabb blocked Pavelski’s long shot, but the puck fell to Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Fleury could only get a piece of the backhander from the Sharks defenseman.

“We definitely didn’t expect it, but we knew around Christmas we had a pretty good team,” Knights forward Jonathan Marchesault said. “We just kept going, and we kept winning. It’s been a great experience.”

More Golden Knights: Follow all of our Golden Knights coverage online at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Golden Knights Videos
Golden Edge Mailbag | October 17th, 2019
The Review-Journal's Ben Gotz and Cassie Soto are back for a new rendition of the Golden Edge mailbag! Send in your VGK questions, and they'll answer them live on the stream.
Malcom Subban Day-To-Day, Gallant Talks Golden Knights' Goaltenders - VIDEO
After suffering an undisclosed lower body injury in a loss to the Arizona Coyotes, Golden Knights goaltender Malcolm Subban was announced as having a day-to-day injury when head coach Gerard Gallant spoke about his goaltenders after practice.
Golden Knights lose 4-1 to Coyotes - VIDEO
The Golden Knights lost 4-1 to the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale. VGK Goalie Malcolm Subban exited the game early with an injury and is Day-to-day.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gerard Gallant knows Coyotes are "very aggressive" - Video
The Golden Knights will head to Arizona to face the Coyotes on Thursday with hopes to bounce back from Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Bruins. Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant is fully aware that the Coyotes are a very aggressive team and knows his guys will have to match that speed.
Golden Knights Feast on Shark - Video
After swimming with (and defeating) the Sharks in their first two games of the season, the entire Vegas Golden Knights team feasted on their fair share of seafood at Zuma Las Vegas inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Golden Knights Greet Fans At Gold Carpet - Video
The Golden Knights walk the gold carpet before puck drop at their season opener against the San Jose Sharks at the T-Mobile Arena.
Golden Knights Hold Private Practice, Lunch for 1 October First Responders - Video
The Golden Knights held a private practice at City National Arena for first responders, Mandalay Bay employees and guests who were affected by the 1 October events. After practice, guests were able to meet the Golden Knights themselves to take pictures and get autographs.
Golden Knights Prepare to Honor Those Affected by 1 October - VIDEO
Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon discusses the teams upcoming practice which will honor those affected by the events on October 1, 2017. The team has invited guests including first responders, Mandalay Bay employees and others who were impacted. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon Discusses Roster Updates - VIDEO
Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon discusses the teams roster and key injuries ahead of Opening Day (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Golden Knights Max Pacioretty on the Golden Edge Podcast - VIDEO
Vegas Golden Knights forward Max Pacioretty joins the Golden Edge podcast to talk about the upcoming season for the Knights, the rivalry with the Sharks and the Pacioretty 67 burger.
Golden Knights Alex Tuch, Cody Eakin Injured in Preseason Loss to Kings
The Golden Knights not only lost to the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Friday night, the team also saw Alex Tuch and Cody Eakin head off the ice with injuries. Golden Edge host Cassie Soto and Golden Knights beat writers David Schoen and Ben Gotz give an update on the players injuries as well as discuss what went wrong for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knights Suffer Second Preseason Loss to the Kings - Video
The Golden Knights suffered the team's second loss of the preseason, this time to the LA Kings 3-2. Head coach Gerard Gallant knows his team got off to a sloppy start but was impressed with the final effort.
Golden Knights Forward Ryan Reaves wants to play in the pre-season - VIDEO
Golden Knights Forward Ryan Reaves talks about coming back from an injury and a possible long term deal with the team. September 26, 2019.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gallant speaks on injuries and cuts before last two pre-season games - VIDEO
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant speaks after practice on September 26, 2019, on injuries and cuts before last two pre-season games.
Golden Knights Suffer First Preseason Loss to Avalanche, 4-1 - Video
The Golden Knights suffered the team's first preseason loss, after falling to the Avalanche 4-1. Golden Edge host Cassie Soto and Golden Knights beat writers David Schoen and Ben Gotz break down what went wrong for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knights React to First Preseason Loss - Video
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant called the first loss of the preseason a "team loss" that was "tough to watch."
Paul Stastny On Playing More Games - Video
Golden Knights forward Paul Stastny talks about preparing for the regular season and playing more games before the season starts.
Golden Knights Nate Schmidt Talks About Seeking Change With PED Testing - Video
The Golden Knights wrap up their practice for the day and Nate Schmidt hoping to see changes to PED testing.
Nate Schmidt On Wanting Change With PED Testing - Video
Nate Schmidt speaks about wanting to see change with PED testing in the NHL.
Fleury and Marchessault Play Heads Up - Video
Golden Knights Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Marchessault play heads up VGK edition.
Aliens Invade City National Arena for Competition
Aliens attended the City National Arena for a competition to see who was best dressed. The prize was out of this world. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights rally to beat Kings in OT, 3-2
The Golden Knights were down 2-0 halfway through the third period, but two quick goals helped get the team back on track to beat the Kings 3-2 in overtime.
Golden Knights' Deryk Engelland Shares Advice with Rookies - Video
Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland has some advice for rookies: “Stick with what got you there.” The veteran NHL player also recalls his first goal as a pro.
Golden Knights Continue Preseason Success with Win Over Avalanche - Video
The Golden Knights prospects are continuing to prove they are worthy of a starting position, this time with a shutout 5-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gerard Gallant Praises Prospects - Video
A day after the Golden Knights 6-2 preseason victory over the Arizona Coyotes, head coach Gerard Gallant discussed how impressed he is with the prospects, including defensemen Nicolas Hague and Dylan Coghlan.
Golden Knights On First Preseason Win - Video
The Golden Knights talk about their first preseason win including Max Pacioretty's hat trick and putting Malcolm Subban as the goaltender for tonight's game.
Golden Knights Zamboni Lessons 101 - Video
The Golden Knights preseason tips off on Sunday, Sept. 15 and you know what that mean, it's time to roll out the zamboni! Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a zamboni operator for the Golden Knights? Golden Edge host Cassie Soto finds out!
Allegiant Unveils Golden Knights Plane - Video
Allegiant air officially unveils its new Golden Knights airbus that will take to the skies soon.
Golden Knights Rookie Camp: 3 Takeaways - Video
Vegas Golden Knights rookies took to the ice on Friday morning for practice at City National Arena. While the rookies mainly participated in drills, it was good to see the prospects get ice time. Golden Knights beat writers David Schoen and Ben Gotz discuss their three takeaways from the practice.
Golden Knights Host Charity Golf Classic - Video
The Golden Knights held its 2019 Charity Golf Classic on Wednesday at TPC Summerlin. Before teeing off, Golden Knights players Ryan Reaves, Jonathan Marchassault and Alex Tuch said who they thought were the worst and best golfers on their team.
Ryan Reaves performs wedding ceremony
Reverand Reavo makes his debut for one time only at the Chapel of Flowers for a get married by Ryan Reaves contest.