Sharks vs. Golden Knights: Free Picks, Odds & Predictions

Sharks vs Golden Knights NHL week 18
San Jose vs. Vegas, SAP Center

The San Jose Sharks are trying to end their season on a positive note as they search for their first win this season against the Vegas Golden Knights. For a brief week in April, it felt like the Sharks might be in the playoff picture in the West Division, but they have gone 3-13-3 in the last five weeks to plummet toward the bottom of the division. They host the Golden Knights on Wednesday in a game that Vegas needs to maintain control of the West Division and the race for the Presidents’ Trophy. A win for Vegas clinches both titles for the fourth-year franchise in a tight race with Colorado.

Free Picks

William Karlsson’s offensive production has dwindled since bursting onto the scene in Vegas’ inaugural season, but his offensive talent is still on display in bursts. In the Golden Knights’ last game against the Sharks, Karlsson only had an assist, but he had a plus-4 plus/minus rating so he was clearly around the action when Vegas did score. That assist actually started a hot streak with points in seven of eight games. He’s been held off the scoresheet in the past two games, but this is a game where Vegas is going to push its chips to the middle of the table and go all out for the top seed. I expect Karlsson will again be around the action, so I’m comfortable with the +185 odds from the legal sports betting sites in New Jersey.

WILLIAM KARLSSON SCORES GOAL

In three of their first four games against Vegas this season, San Jose scored either one goal or was shut out by the Golden Knights. The Sharks have scored multiple goals in each of their last three meetings, but Wednesday’s game is far different because the stakes are very clear for both sides. With a lot riding on this game for Vegas, I expect its best effort and that means being a possession-hogging team that limits the opponent’s scoring chances. In their last 16 games, the Golden Knights have held opponents to 25 shots or fewer eight times and allowed two goals or fewer 13 times. The Sharks have scored at least three goals in seven of their last nine games, but this is a Vegas team allowing the fifth-fewest shots in the league, the fewest goals and ranking second with a .919 team save percentage. I don’t think the Sharks offense can get going, so I’ll hop onto the +255 odds from the hockey betting sites in New Jersey.

SAN JOSE SHARKS UNDER 1.5 GOALS

This is a bit more of a risky bet than the +225 odds from the NHL betting sites in New Jersey let on. On paper, Vegas should be able to beat San Jose by at least three goals, especially with what is on the line for the Golden Knights. Yet, the Sharks have been a plucky bunch this season and have played four one-goal games with Vegas this season – including a pair of overtime losses – and have just two losses by three goals or more against the Golden Knights this year. What changes Wednesday in my mind is the motivation factor after a long, difficult season during a pandemic. The Golden Knights have something to play for – the division title and Presidents’ Trophy – while the Sharks are playing for nothing but pride in a disappointing season. Vegas is going to play all out to try to secure any advantage it can for the postseason, and that makes me believe the Golden Knights will come out strong and keep beating down the Sharks for 60 minutes.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS -2.5 GOALS

Best Odds

San Jose Vegas
888Sport
+165 -205
FanDuel
+180 -215
BetMGM
+155 -190

Statistics

Head to Head

This is the last of eight matchups this season between San Jose and Vegas as the Sharks are searching for their first win this season over the Golden Knights after managing just two overtime losses in the first seven meetings.

Stats

  • On the morning of April 10, the Sharks were just three points out of the final playoff spot in the West Division with 17 games left. A month later as they enter their final game of the regular season, San Jose has won just three of those 16 games and posted a 3-10-3 record to fall 10 points back of the final playoff spot. During that slump, San Jose has been outscored 64-40 despite holding a slim 493-490 advantage in shots on goal. Its power play has scored just three times on 47 chances, a measly 6.4 percent success rate, while the penalty kill has allowed goals on 20.8 percent of man-down chances.
  • Vegas has been surging since the beginning of April with 15 wins in its last 19 games. In that span, the Golden Knights offense has been clicking on all cylinders, averaging 3.8 goals per game while allowing just 2.1 per contest. The power play has been operating at a mundane 18.9 percent during that span, but the penalty kill, which is in a near dead-heat with Boston for best in the league, has killed off more than 91 percent of penalties in those 19 games.
  • Evander Kane has points in seven of his last nine games, which includes three games with multiple points for an offensively-challenged Sharks team. With his performances over the past month, Kane has surpassed Tomas Hertl for the team lead with 22 goals and 27 assists for 49 points. Kane is averaging .9 points per game, which is the best average in his career by a wide mile and a point Wednesday would be just Kane’s fourth 50-point season in 12 seasons in the league.
  • Shea Theodore is often overlooked on the blue line for the Golden Knights as his offensive statistics have been overshadowed by the talented forwards on the Vegas roster. Theodore has 34 assists in 52 games on defense for Vegas, and it was only a month ago that Theodore had a goal and 10 assists in a eight-game span. Theodore also seems to be at his best against the Sharks with two assists in each of his last three games against San Jose.

Our Prediction for San Jose vs. Vegas

Vegas Golden Knights to win

This is one of the few games at the end of the regular season that actually matters, and the Vegas Golden Knights are clearly the better team. The Golden Knights are in a tight race for the top seed in the West Division, and that is vital in avoiding a first-round matchup with the upstart Wild and also securing home ice for the entire postseason. For those who think home ice doesn’t matter, Vegas won 21 of 28 games this year on home ice, second-most in the league. The San Jose Sharks are in a tailspin and they are looking toward the offseason and retooling with more youth on the roster, so there might not be as much jump in their season finale Wednesday.

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

All Reviews by Josh Walfish

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