Updated November 10, 2023 - 11:28 pm
It took only a minute for the Golden Knights’ first handshake line of the game to commence.
There would be many more.
Friday’s matchup at T-Mobile Arena always felt like a tall task for the San Jose Sharks. They were playing for the second time in two nights against the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Sharks had won two straight and were still off to a horrendous start.
The Knights didn’t provide hope when there was none.
Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo scored on a wraparound the second shift of the game, sparking a 5-0 win in front of an announced crowd of 18,423. The Knights shook off two consecutive losses to improve to 12-2-1.
They’re the first team since the Montreal Canadiens in 2015-16 and 2016-17 to win 12 of its first 15 games in back-to-back seasons.
“I don’t think anyone’s confidence has wavered in here, but we recognized that there are things we weren’t doing up to our ability,” defenseman Alec Martinez said. “Proud of the guys, the way they rebounded and bounced back and got back in the win column.”
The Knights weren’t at their sharpest start to finish, yet it still was more than enough.
They fired the game’s first seven shots on goal. They lived in the offensive zone the entire night. The Knights set a season best in shots on goal (39) and shots allowed (20).
It took awhile for the scoreboard to reflect the run of play, but it got there by the final buzzer.
The first pair of Pietrangelo and defenseman Alec Martinez played a leading role in the final result. Pietrangelo had a goal and two assists for his first-three point game of the season. Martinez scored twice for just the third multigoal game of his 15-year NHL career, and first since April 5, 2021.
Pietrangelo and Martinez each struck in the first period to give the Knights a 2-0 lead 11:19 into the game. Center William Karlsson added on 2:24 into the third with a short-handed goal, thanks to a great assist from center Jack Eichel. It was Karlsson’s eighth goal and 15th point in his last 12 games.
Karlsson tacked on another point 2:16 later by setting up Martinez’s second goal. Center Brett Howden grabbed the Knights’ fifth 9:34 into the third period.
That was all the team needed to snap its losing skid at two.
The Knights cruised to the finish line against the woeful Sharks, who have started 2-11-1 this season while being outscored by 46 goals.
“You’ve lost two in a row, so you don’t want to get on the wrong side of that for too long,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “The timing of them playing their third game in four nights, traveling, it was good for us. … I thought our first period dictated how the game would go for us. We kept on course there.”
Here are three takeaways from the win:
1. Hill’s shutout
San Jose traded goaltender Adin Hill to the Knights for a fourth-round pick Aug. 29, 2022.
Performances like the one Hill had Friday aren’t going to make Sharks fans forget that fact anytime soon. Hill was brilliant against his former team despite the Knights dominating the puck. He made 20 saves for his second shutout, tied for the NHL lead.
Hill’s best stop came on a backdoor shot by San Jose right wing Luke Kunin with 6:17 remaining in the second period. He stretched across his crease to turn the puck aside with his right skate.
”I just tried to stretch across and get a piece of equipment on it,” Hill said.
2. Amadio steps up
The last two games have been different for Michael Amadio, who was moved from third-line right wing to second-line center with Chandler Stephenson nursing an upper-body injury.
He’s handling the transition well so far.
Amadio picked up the primary assist on each of the Knights’ first two goals for his second multipoint game of the season.
”Just kind of more conscious in the D-zone (at center),” Amadio said. “Making sure I’m in the right spots and the right lanes. Just focusing a little bit on that, and the rest takes care of itself.”
3. Whitecloud returns
Defenseman Zach Whitecloud played his first game at T-Mobile Arena on Friday night since lifting the Stanley Cup in the building.
Whitecloud was activated off injured reserve after recovering from a preseason upper-body injury that required surgery. He played on the third pair with veteran Ben Hutton and resumed his role as a fixture on the Knights’ penalty kill.
Defenseman Kaedan Korczak was sent down to the American Hockey League before the game with Whitecloud rejoining the roster.