Golden Knights clinch playoff spot with 8th straight victory

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LAS VEGAS — Jonathan Marchessault scored twice and the Vegas Golden Knights became the first NHL team to clinch a playoff berth, beating the San Jose Sharks 5-2 on Wednesday night for their eighth straight victory.

Vegas leads the NHL with 33 wins and 68 points.

The Golden Knights improved to 15-1-3 against the Sharks in regular-season meetings — including 7-0-0 this season. Vegas also improved to 18-4-2 at home this season.

Mark Stone Alex Tuch, and Mattias Janmark also scored for Vegas. Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves to improve to 5-0-0 against the Sharks this season and 7-0-1 in his last eight.

Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl scored for San Jose. The Sharks are 0-6-1 in their last seven.

WILD 4, COYOTES 1

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Kirill Kripizov scored a dazzling goal to break Minnesota’s rookie record, Cam Talbot stopped 39 shots and the Wild beat Arizona to stretch their winning streak to five games.

The Wild withstood a big initial flurry by Arizona and an early goal by Christian Dvorak in a tight-checking game. Kevin Fiala and Marcus Foligno each scored to put the Wild up, then Kiprizov deked goalie Darcy Kuemper out of the crease and scored on a wraparound.

It was Kiprizov’s 19th goal, breaking Marian Gaborik’s rookie record.

Talbot made some big saves down the stretch, and Nico Sturm added an empty-net goal to give Minnesota a 16-point cushion over the Coyotes for third in the West Division.

The Coyotes dominated early, but couldn’t get anything else past Talbot in losing for the seventh time in eight games.

BLACKHAWKS 5, PREDATORS 4, OT

CHICAGO (AP) — Brandon Hagel scored three minutes into overtime to lift Chicago past Nashville.

Hagel also had two assists to help Chicago beat Nashville for the first time in seven games this season. Pius Suter and Vinnie Hinostroza each had a goal and an assist, Wyatt Kalynuk and Dominik Kubalik added goals, and Malcolm Subban made 35 saves. The Blackhawks trailed 4-1 after Luke Kunin scored 58 seconds into the third.

Mikael Granlund had a goal and an assist for the Predators, Eeli Tolvanen and Colton Sissons also scored, and Juuse Saros made 25 saves.

The teams will meet again in Chicago on Friday night.

The Associated Press