Neal scores go-ahead goal in Vegas’ 5-3 win over Sharks
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — James Neal prides himself on scoring big goals.
He delivered again on Thursday night.
Neal and Jonathan Marchessault scored in a 3 1/2-minute span in the third period, helping the Vegas Golden Knights to a 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
Brayden McNabb, William Karlsson and Erik Haula also scored for the Golden Knights, who closed out a 4-2 road trip. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 shots.
Neal scored his 24th goal of the season at 15:10 to put the Golden Knights ahead to stay. It was his 16th goal in the third period or later.
“When it gets down to the third period, I take pride in giving my team a chance to win,” he said. “It’s a time I try to turn it up as much as I can.”
Joe Pavelski scored twice for the Sharks, who lost their second straight. Timo Meier also scored, and Martin Jones made 28 saves.
“It was a tough game, a tale of a bunch of different games,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “I loved our first period but we came out with nothing to show for it. You play like that, you should come out in front. We didn’t and that hurt.”
Fleury kept Vegas in it by stopping 15 shots in the opening period. The Golden Knights were held to four shots, and none in the first 13:50.
“We came out sleeping tonight,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “They dominated that first period. Coming out of that 1-1 was a big break for us.”
Pavelski put San Jose in front 4:40 into the game. He redirected a hard shot from Brent Burns into the net.
Haula tied it with six minutes left in the first, slapping a rebound past Jones. It was Haula’s sixth goal in eight games and No. 21 on the season.
Karlsson scored 37 seconds into the second period after a Sharks clearing pass hit Logan Couture, resulting in a turnover.
Jones nearly made a spectacular save, getting his glove on the puck. He wasn’t able to hang onto it as he lost his balance, giving Karlsson an easy tip-in.
Meier tied it again midway through the second after knocking in a puck that bounced off Fleury’s shoulder pads from a Burns shot.
“We played in their zone a lot,” Meier said. “We just didn’t play our game for 60 minutes. They’re good off the rush and they take advantage of what you give them. We gave them too much. It hurts to lose a game like that.”
Pavelski gave the Sharks a 3-2 advantage midway through the third, but McNabb evened things two minutes later. That set up Neal’s winning goal off a nice pass from David Perron.
“I managed to get the puck and heard Perry calling for it behind me,” Neal said. “I dropped it off and he made a great play to get it back to me and give me a chance to get a good shot off. I just tried to get it off quick.”
Marchessault added an empty-net goal with 81 seconds remaining.
NOTES: The Sharks recalled D Tim Heed from the minors before the game. ... Jones appeared in his 200th NHL game. ... Perron played in his 700th game. ... Pavelski recorded his first multigoal game of the season. ... Burns matched his season high with three assists.
Golden Knights: Return home to host the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.
Sharks: Host the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.