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Morelli scores first NHL goal

Vegas Golden Knights left wing Mason Morelli (11) is congratulated by teammates after scoring against the San Jose Sharks during the first period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Monday, Feb. 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Mason Morelli had a goal and an assist in his NHL debut, Logan Thompson had his fourth career shutout and the Vegas Golden Knights completed a season sweep against the San Jose Sharks with a 4-0 victory on Monday.

“It’s a pretty special moment,” Morelli said. “It’s kind of hard to put into words. It’s a really good group of guys that were very welcoming and they made it easy on me and they made some really good plays.”

The 28-year-old Morelli spent six years in the minors in the ECHL and AHL before finally getting called up to the NHL over the weekend.

He wasted little time getting on the scoresheet, redirecting a pass from Alex Pietrangelo late in the first period to give Vegas a 3-0 lead.

He later got a secondary assist on Keegan Kolesar’s goal late in the second period.

“I told him he should have fought somebody,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “That would have been a story, a Gordie Howe hat trick in your first NHL game. But that’s easier said than done in today’s game. I thought he played really well.”

Michael Amadio and William Karlsson scored less than two minutes apart early in the first period to help the Golden Knights snap a two-game skid. Alec Martinez had three assists.

Thompson made 29 saves for his first shutout since Oct. 28, 2022, against Anaheim.

San Jose was blanked for a league-high ninth time this season, tying a franchise record for most times being shut out in a season last done in 2021-22.

Mackenzie Blackwood made 22 saves for the Sharks.

Vegas improved to 19-1-3 against San Jose since losing a first-round playoff series in 2019 as a once fierce rivalry has become decidedly one-sided.

The Sharks came out fast in this game and hit two posts in the first 90 seconds before quickly falling into a hole they never could escape.

Zach Whitecloud hit Amadio with a stretch pass from the defensive zone for a breakaway that made it 1-0 2:28 into the game.

“We started out great. We’re ready to play,” coach David Quinn said. “First 2 1/2 minutes we were buzzing. Crossbars. Chances. Then we gave up like our 38th breakaway in three games. It’s just inexcusable. It can’t happen.”

Karlsson scored 1:57 later on a rebound from in close and Vegas was never really threatened on the way to finishing a four-game sweep this season against San Jose.

“We had a tough first shift or a couple,” Cassidy said. “We got lucky. They hit a couple of posts. Logan made some good saves. It could have given them a lot of life. I think we can still play through that stuff but the fact that we get a quick hitter breakaway goal was probably demoralizing.”

The Sharks scratched forward Alexander Barabanov after his poor back check led to a game-winning goal for Columbus in the closing seconds of Saturday’s game. Defenseman Henry Thrun was back in the lineup after being activated from injured reserve for a shoulder injury.

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