Vegas Golden Knights clinched the Pacific Division championship
April 01, 2018 7:58 AM
by Nick Pellegrino
In a remarkable season of firsts for an expansion team in any of North America’s major team sports, the Vegas Golden Knights clinched the Pacific Division championship Saturday, nipping the second-place standing San Jose Sharks, 3-2, at T-Mobile Arena.
William Karlsson registered what could be the club’s goal of the year as the tie-breaker midway through the third period. Karlsson threaded the needle, placing his stick between his legs and lifting the puck, which was behind him, high into the short side on a breakaway against Sharks goalie Martin Jones.
The Golden Knights, with their 50th victory, also became the first NHL club to clinch any of the four divisions crowns this season. They lead the Sharks (44-25-10, 98 points) by nine points with three contests -- all the road -- remaining.
Unless there is a complete collapse by Central Division leading Nashville (111 points), Vegas (50-22-7, 1-7) will finish as the No. 2 seed behind the Predators in the Western Conference and will host the best among two wild card teams in Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Shea Theodore scored on the Knights’ first shot of the game, but Sharks captain Joe Pavelski tied it. In the second period, Vegas’ Oscar Lindberg deflected a shot from the boards by Theodore. However, the Sharks again netted the equalizer during a delay penalty against the hosts.
Sharks veteran defenseman Brent Burns then turned over the puck in the third period, leading to Karlsson’s historic breakaway game-winner. It was his club-leading 42nd goal of the season.