Programming note: Sharks-Penguins coverage starts today at 3:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California
WHERE THEY STAND
Sharks: 3-1-0, 6 points, 3rd Pacific Division
Penguins: 2-1-1, 5 points, 2nd Metropolitan Division
NEWS AND NOTES
***The Sharks and Penguins will meet for the first time since Pittsburgh’s win in the Stanley Cup Final last June. The Penguins are, however, missing some key pieces to that series victory as Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Matt Murray and Conor Sheary are all out due to injury.
The Sharks are 2-1 on their current five-game road trip, which concludes on Saturday in Detroit.
“A lot of reminders for sure being back here not long ago,” Joel Ward said. “Definitely excited, a good challenge with us being on the road early again. We’ll try to notch another road win.”
***Pete DeBoer said after the Islanders game that he wasn’t sure what his emotions would be like when he walked into the rink, which is now called PPG Paints Arena. Now that he’s here, how does he feel?
“An overwhelming sense I think of pride for our group and the journey we went on,” he said. “I know we came up short, but the memories I have coming back in here are just of how our guys really emptied the tank. … They were the better team, but I was very proud of our effort. That’s the overwhelming feeling right now.”
As for Joe Thornton, he recalled that the last time the Sharks were here they won Game 5, prolonging the series.
“The last time we were here was a pretty good feeling,” Thornton said. “That’s all I remember, really.”
***Matt Nieto will return to the lineup for Micheal Haley, who played against the Islanders and helped to generate the first goal in the 3-2 win.
DeBoer stressed that Nieto wasn’t removed from the lineup due to his play, but that the Sharks are “going to rotate guys in and out” due to their improved depth.
“[Nieto] brings some more speed for us. I thought he did a good job the game before we took him out,” DeBoer said. “Hales gave us a real good game against a physical team against the Islanders, and Neets will go back in to tonight. He’s just got to do his thing.”
Nieto said: “Something they try to do is play fast, and they’ve got a lot of speedy guys in their lineup. I think if I’m moving my legs it could be effective.”
KEEP AN EYE ON
Sharks: Joe Thornton. The Sharks’ top line center broke through on Tuesday in Brooklyn, setting up the game-tying goal and game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory over the Islanders. Thornton didn’t have a very good Stanley Cup Final against the Penguins with just three assists in six games, so perhaps he has some retribution on his mind, even if he doesn't want to admit it.
Penguins: Matt Cullen. The veteran center is doing his best to help minimize the loss of Crosby, and is tied for the team lead with three points (1g, 2a). Dating back to last season, Cullen, who turns 40 on Nov. 2, has 11 goals in his past 31 games.
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
Martin Jones (confirmed starter)
Chris Kunitz – Evgeni Malkin – Bryan Rust
Carl Hagelin – Nick Bonino – Phil Kessel
Scott Wilson – Matt Cullen – Patric Honqvist
Tom Sestito – Eric Fehr – Tom Kuhnhackl
Olli Maatta – Trevor Daley
Ian Cole – Justin Schultz
Derrick Pouliot – Brian Dumoulin
Penguins: Kris Letang (upper body) and Conor Sheary (eye), Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Matt Murray (hand) are out.