It's been a very good week for the Philadelphia 76ers, which has included them clinching their first playoff spot since 2012 a few days ago. They also got the return of their No. 1 overall pick, Markelle Fultz, on Monday night in a 123-104 win over the Denver Nuggets. Fultz played 14 minutes off the bench in his first game since October and finished with 10 points and eight rebounds on the night. He played the first four games of the year before a shoulder injury costed him the rest of his rookie season before Monday. He missed a total of 68 games this year, but added three blocked shots in his return on the other end of the floor. He was welcomed back by the chants of "Fultz! Fultz! Fultz!" from the Philly crowd, but the rookie thought the chant was "Foles! Foles! Foles!" for the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, Nick Foles. The Sixers were led by Joel Embiid's 20 points, as they moved back into the four-seed in the East, which has them hosting a playoff series at this point. Will Barton had 25 points to lead the Nuggets, who now sit two games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They will hope to close that gap when they visit the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night. The Sixers will enjoy a day off Tuesday before hosting the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
Golden Knights Clinch Playoff Spot in Inaugural Season
The Las Vegas Golden Knights' inaugural season continues to get more and more historic as the season goes on, and they added to that on Monday night. The Golden Knights clinched a playoff spot in the Western Conference with a 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche, becoming the first expansion team to reach the playoffs since the league expanded in the 1967-1968 campaign. Alex Tuch, Jonathan Marchessault, Shea Theodore, and William Karlsson all scored for the Knights, who also got 28 saves from veteran Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury, along with Karlsson, were among the Knights that spoke to their crowd in their home opener, promising them to bring some joy following the tragic October 1st mass shooting that killed 58 people on the Las Vegas Strip. They have done just that and much more, and have no intentions of stopping anytime soon. Fleury's big effort improved his record to 28-11-4 with the victory. The other historic feat was the fact that Vegas' head coach, Gerard Gallant, recorded the 200th win of his career on Monday. For the Avalanche, their push for a playoff spot was put on hold for a night, despite getting a goal from Erik Johnson. They are still on a nice 9-3-3 stretch, but their three-game road winning streak came to an end with the loss. They will return home on Wednesday night to host the Philadelphia Flyers. The Golden Knights will also be at home on Wednesday to host the Arizona Coyotes.
Sharks Stay Hot With Shootout Win in Chicago
One team that has remained red hot to keep pace with the Golden Knights are the San Jose Sharks, who earned their eighth straight victory on Monday night, 4-3, over the Chicago Blackhawks in a shootout. The shootout went into the fourth round, where Kevin Labanc netted the game-winner for San Jose, who remains in second place in the Pacific Division, six points behind Vegas. Lebanc, along with Logan Couture, both beat Anton Forsberg in the shootout, as the Sharks continue to enjoy their longest win streak in seven years. Patrick Sharp forced extra playing time for the Blackhawks by scoring the tying goal with 2:22 left in regulation, but Chicago could not capitalize on their best scoring opportunity in overtime, as Martin Jones stopped Patrick Kane late. Jones finished the night with 28 saves for the Sharks, who got goals from Marcus Sorenson, Thomas Hertl, and Evander Kane in regulation. Kane stayed hot with his tally, which was his 28th of the season, third in the past two games, and eighth in 13 games since being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres. The Blackhawks got goals from Connor Murphy and rookie Alex DeBrincat, who now has 26 on the season. Forsberg made 35 saves in a losing effort, as his Blackhawks move on to host the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. The Sharks look to extend their streak when they visit the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.