Golden Knights lose to Sharks in shootout in home finale

Golden Knights center Chandler Stephenson (20) scores a goal past San Jose Sharks goaltender Ja ...

If one game encapsulated all of the Golden Knights’ frustrations this season, it was Sunday.

Seemingly home free with a two-goal lead against San Jose and still in control of their playoff destiny, the Knights stumbled when they could least afford it.

San Jose rookie Thomas Bordeleau scored the lone goal in the shootout, and the Knights saw their playoff hopes take a hit with a 5-4 loss to the Sharks on Sunday in the home finale at T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights lost for the first time in 12 meetings with the rival Sharks and are three points behind Dallas for the second wild card. They face the Stars in a must-win game Tuesday to open a season-ending, three-game road trip and will need help to reach the postseason for the fifth straight season.

Timo Meier, who called this the Sharks biggest game of the year, scored on a rebound with 0.9 seconds remaining in regulation for the Sharks and tied the score 4-4. Nick Bonino’s second goal of the game cut into the Knights lead at 17:54 of the third.

The Knights had a chance in overtime on the power play but couldn’t convert. Nicolas Roy, Jack Eichel and Shea Theodore were stopped by San Jose goalie James Reimer in the shootout.

It was their first loss to San Jose since Nov. 21, 2019.

Max Pacioretty put the Knights ahead 2-1 in the second period with a power move down the right wing before he fired a shot into the upper corner for his 17th goal. William Carrier, who was activated from long-term injured reserve and played his first game since March 26, also scored in the second.

Pacioretty and Chandler Stephenson each finished with a goal and an assist for the Knights.

Nicolas Roy added a goal in the third period to put the Knights on top 4-2 and also finished with two points.

Here’s what stood out from the game:

1. Mystery solved

After days of speculation about who would start in net for the Knights, Logan Thompson earned the nod.

Thompson finished with 25 stops in regulation and overtime. He made a backdoor stop on Alexander Barabanov in the first period and turned away Meier on a breakaway after he hopped out of the penalty box in the second period.

The announced crowd of 18,367 exploded late in the third when Thompson poked-checked the puck away from Logan Couture and stopped Sasha Chmelevski on the follow-up shot.

Robin Lehner served as the backup after ESPN and The Athletic reported he was undergoing season-ending surgery.

2. Meat Grinders 2.0

The fourth line had a different look for the majority of the regular season, with the Knights opting for skill over brawn.

But winger William Carrier was activated from long-term injured reserve after missing the past 10 games, and DeBoer teamed him with center Nicolas Roy and winger Keegan Kolesar to form a heavy line.

That trio started the game and set a physical tone early, dishing out four hits on the opening shift and combining for six hits in the first period.

They also teamed up to put the Knights ahead 3-1 in the second period, as Kolesar centered to a wide-open Carrier for his first goal since March 13. Carrier matched his career high for goals (eight) and points (19) in a season.

Kolesar was injured late in the second period and did not return.

3. Exclusive club

Stephenson’s breakout season continued, as he pocketed two points and hit two significant personal milestones.

In the first period, he cleaned up a rebound on a power play and reached 20 goals for the first time in his career. He is the third member of the Knights to hit the mark, joining Jonathan Marchessault and Evgenii Dadonov.

Stephenson also picked up an assist on Pacioretty’s go-ahead goal in the second period and his 41 helpers are fourth on the Knights single-season list. He has 61 points after producing 55 points combined in his first three seasons in the league.

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