Updated March 17, 2021 - 10:31 pm
The Golden Knights absorbed the San Jose Sharks’ best punch Wednesday — figuratively and literally.
When it came time for the Knights to fight back in the third period, they had too much firepower for their rival.
Alec Martinez’s power-play goal with 5:14 remaining proved to be the winner, and the Knights scored four times in a fiery third period to beat the San Jose Sharks 5-4 at T-Mobile Arena.
“I think our group has a confidence in what we do,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “I think we’ve done it enough that we know if we can get a certain amount of pressure on the other team at the right moments of the third, then we have a chance to grab the momentum. And that momentum is 10-fold at home with the crowd starting to get into it and the building starting to rock.”
The Knights won their fourth straight overall and improved to 13-1-3 in the regular season against San Jose, including 5-0 this season.
Ryan Reaves notched his first goal of the season to break a 3-3 tie with 7:33 remaining when he deflected a shot by Tomas Nosek. Cody Glass and Nic Hague also scored in the third period, which saw Mark Stone and Jonathan Marchessault each involved in a fight that ignited the announced crowd of 3,473.
“I think we came into the locker room knowing we know how to win games, and it seems like they don’t really right now,” Reaves said. “We came out with a little bit of emotion, obviously two big fights by guys that don’t fight a lot. That definitely added to the emotion and got the bench up.”
Shea Theodore finished with a goal and two assists, and Tomas Nosek added two assists.
The Knights played without key forwards Chandler Stephenson and Alex Tuch, each of whom were considered game-time decisions.
William Carrier returned after a four-game absence, and Tomas Jurco appeared in his first NHL game since Nov. 6, 2019, and it took until the third period for the Knights’ offense to get cranked up.
“We talked at the end of the second that we hadn’t done a good enough job getting inside at their net to score and hadn’t done a good enough job keeping them outside at our net from scoring,” DeBoer said. “Really, it was as simple as that.”
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury started for the 17th time in the past 18 games, but didn’t get much help in the second period when the Knights were outworked below the hashmarks on three goals.
Matt Nieto tied the score at 1 when he was parked in front and redirected Timo Meier’s pass at 6:21. Defenseman Mario Ferraro put the Sharks ahead 1:36 later on a wraparound, the Sharks’ first lead over the Knights in five meetings.
The Knights appeared to tie the score with nine minutes remaining in the second when Reaves jammed home a loose puck. But Carrier interfered with Sharks goalie Devan Dubnyk moments before, and the goal was disallowed after a video review.
San Jose took advantage of the break, pinning the Knights in their own zone for a lengthy shift. Kevin Labanc batted in Evander Kane’s pass for a 3-1 lead at 15:07 of the second.
Kane finished with a goal and two assists, and Ferraro had a goal and an assist.
“I’m really proud of our guys, how they banded together,” Martinez said. “In order to be a successful team, you have to be able to score by committee, you have to have team toughness, you have to be able to stick up for each other. I’m really proud of the way the guys did that tonight.”
San Jose established a physical tone in a high-paced first period and dished out hits in all three zones trying to slow the Knights.
The Sharks had a 14-6 advantage in scoring chances, according to NaturalStatTrick.com, but the Knights broke through for the first goal.
Max Pacioretty tracked down a long rebound along the left-wing boards and circled back toward the point, where he teed up Theodore for a one-timer at 3:45.
Theodore extended his point streak to five games, and Pacioretty has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past four outings.