NHL Gameday: Dell likely to debut as Sharks visit Isles

NHL Gameday: Dell likely to debut as Sharks visit Isles

Programming note: Sharks-Islanders coverage starts today at 3:30om with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California.


Sharks: 2-1-0, 4 points, 3rd Pacific Division
Islanders: 1-2-0, 2 points, 6th Metropolitan Division


*Sharks backup goalie Aaron Dell is likely to make his NHL debut on Tuesday night, although there was no morning skate for the Sharks, so nothing has been made official just yet. The 27-year-old Alberta native played in two preseason games, posting a 2.48 goals-against average and .894 save percentage (five goals allowed on 47 shots). 

*The Sharks are 1-1 on their current five-game road trip, which continues in Pittsburgh on Thursday with a Stanley Cup Final rematch. New York will play its second of a five-game homestand, beating the Ducks in overtime on Sunday in its Barclays Center opener, 3-2.

*Tonight marks the first back-to-back situation for San Jose after a loss to the Rangers on Monday, 7-4. The Sharks have 16 back-to-backs this season, but don't have another until Nov. 25-26, when they host the Islanders and Ducks on consecutive days at SAP Center.


Sharks: Brent Burns. The defenseman is the Sharks’ leading scorer with six points (3g, 3a), tying him for second in the NHL. At the same time, the defensive zone miscues that plagued Burns prior to last season’s second half are reappearing. Prior to the pair of late empty net markers by the Rangers on Monday, Burns was on the ice for four of San Jose’s goals and three of New York's.

Islanders: Brock Nelson. The Isles’ left wing has one point in each of the New York’s first three games (2g, 1a) while centering the second line. The 25-year-old, a late first-round pick in 2010, is coming off a career high 26 goals last season.


Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Mikkel Boedker – Logan Couture – Joonas Donskoi
Patrick Marleau – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Matt Nieto – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Aaron Dell (likely starter)
Martin Jones

Andrew Ladd – John Tavares – Josh Bailey
Anders Lee – Brock Nelson – Jason Chimera
Anthony Beauvillier – Ryan Strome – Alan Quine
Nikolay Kulemin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy – Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey – Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan – Dennis Seidenberg

Jaroslav Halak
Thomas Greiss


Sharks: None.

Islanders: Casey Cizikas (leg) is day-to-day. Mikhail Grabovski (concussion), Eric Boulton (lower body) and Shane Prince (lower body) are out.


“I don’t think we were bad, we just didn’t have that energy that we needed, that compete level. … Just [tried] to turn it on in the third and get away with it. Something we’ve got to learn from and go forward.” – Paul Martin, after the 7-4 loss to the Rangers on Monday

Couture scores in OT, helps Sharks make up ground on Golden Knights

Couture scores in OT, helps Sharks make up ground on Golden Knights


SAN JOSE -- Seconds after almost costing the San Jose Sharks a game with a turnover, Logan Couture ended it with his backhand.

Couture scored 39 seconds into overtime after getting bailed out by goalie Martin Jones and the San Jose Sharks won their season-high sixth straight game, 2-1 over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.

"I was able to make a move on their guy," Couture said. "(Marc-Edouard Vlasic) did a good job of driving their backchecker back and I was able to go far side."

Couture's goal came at the end of an opening shift of the overtime that started with him losing the puck in his own zone, giving Jonathan Marchessault a chance alone in front. Jones got enough of the shot to stop it, and then Vlasic sent the puck ahead to Couture for the winning goal that moved San Jose within seven points of first-place Vegas with eight games remaining in the regular season.

Brent Burns also scored and Jones made 24 saves to help the Sharks open a four-point lead over third-place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division with a game in hand as the Sharks close in on home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

"For us to get a win tonight was important," captain Joe Pavelski said. "Plus, just plant that seed. If we stay hot, you never know, we might be able to catch them and get home ice. We took care of business tonight and we'll try to keep playing well."

Tomas Tatar scored the lone goal for the Golden Knights, who were kept in the game by a sterling performance by goalie Malcolm Subban. He stopped 42 shots but it wasn't enough for Vegas to come up with the win, although he helped earn a point that gave the expansion team 100 this season.

"It's impressive," forward James Neal said. "It's a great season for our guys. Guys came together real quick. A great job so far but we're not done yet."

The Golden Knights struck first on a pretty passing play early in the first period that ended when Marchessault found Tatar cutting through the slot ahead of Justin Braun. Tatar skated past Jones and backhanded the puck into the open net.

Vegas has been dominant when getting off to a lead, posting an NHL-best 31-5-1 record when scoring first heading into this game. But the Sharks carried the play in the second period, outshooting the Golden Knights 18-4 and getting the equalizer on a blast by Burns from the point after another strong shift by San Jose's fourth line.

"We want to be playing really good hockey this time of year and heading into the playoffs. I think that's the goal," coach Peter DeBoer said. "Whether we would have won tonight or lost, I like how we played for most of the game, so that's what I'm concentrating on."

Vegas managed to keep it tied despite the lopsided shot totals, killing off a four-minute penalty to Colin Miller and another late power play that started late in the second.

That penalty carried over until the third period and the Sharks got 25 seconds of a two-man advantage after Brayden McNabb was called for throwing his stick but still couldn't get anything past Subban.

The Golden Knights squandered a power-play chance later in the period when Miller was called for cross checking with the man advantage. That nearly led to a power-play goal for San Jose but Subban appeared to get a piece of a shot from in close to Joe Pavelski to keep the game tied at 1.

"He's the main reason we got the point," coach Gerard Gallant said. "He looked comfortable."

NOTES: Vegas G Marc-Andre Fleury didn't make the trip to San Jose with an undisclosed injury but is expected to join the team for Saturday's game in Colorado. ... Burns became the 15th player to play 500 career games with the Sharks.

Golden Knights: Visit Colorado on Saturday.

Sharks: Host Calgary on Saturday.


How the Sharks can catch the Golden Knights and win the Pacific


How the Sharks can catch the Golden Knights and win the Pacific

About a month ago, the Sharks appeared locked into the Pacific Division's second, third, fourth, or fifth spot. At the end of trade deadline day, they were 12 points back of the division-leading Vegas Golden Knights, and only two points up on the fifth place Calgary Flames.

24 days later, thanks to an 8-2-0 record over the last 10 games (second-best in the NHL), San Jose's still in second place. Now though, those margins are eight points and 11 points, respectively. 

The latter's pretty much locked the Sharks into a playoff spot, while the former's created a path for a late run at the Pacific Division crown. Beginning Thursday night, they will play the Golden Knights twice over both team's final nine games. 

What does the path look like to the Sharks' first division title since 2011? To start, they'll have to beat the Golden Knights twice in regulation to even have a shot. 

That is the foundation of any run at the Pacific's top spot. If the Sharks win both remaining games in regulation, they'll trail the Golden Knights by four points, leaving aside results against other teams for now.

They have to win in regulation, however. A win in overtime or the shootout on Thursday would only cut the gap to seven, and a subsequent win in regulation would leave it at five. Two losses, in any situation, would create a gap of 10-12 points, which would be nearly impossible to overcome this late in the season. 

One point doesn't seem like a lot, but this late in the season, it makes a world of difference. A five-point gap means they'll need to earn six more than the Golden Knights in those other seven games, while a four-point gap means they'll need to earn five in order to pass them. 

The simplest way to five extra points, is for the Sharks to have a record that's two wins and an overtime loss better (2-0-1) than the Golden Knights in the seven games where they don't play each other. That's impossible if Vegas earns at least 10 points in those seven games, so a 5-2-0 or 4-1-2 record would ensure a division banner raising in Sin City.

Taken all together, then, the Golden Knights' 'magic number' is 10 points. Even if the Sharks win on Thursday, their path to a Pacific title remains difficult, if not improbable. 

If a season with an expansion team leading their division has taught us anything, though -- it's that improbable is not impossible.