Programming note – Sharks-Panthers coverage starts today at 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN
WHERE THEY STAND
Sharks: 34-18-5, 73 points, 1st Pacific Division
Panthers: 24-20-10, 58 points, 5th Atlantic Division
PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES
***The Sharks will play their first home game after a four-game road trip tonight against the Panthers, whom they beat in Florida on Nov. 10, 4-2. San Jose has won the last three head-to-head matchups.
Florida is five points out of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
“They’re [in] desperation mode with  games left,” Pete DeBoer said. “Anybody that’s packed in and fighting for those last playoff spots you’re going to see their best game here for the rest of the season.”
After going 1-8-1 in the first home game after a multiple-game road trip last season, the Sharks are 3-2 in such situations this year.
***It’s uncertain whether rookie Nikolay Goldobin will be in the lineup after the former first round pick was recalled on Wednesday morning. One line that will remain the same, though, is the top line of Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Kevin Labanc.
Labanc had a pair of assists on that line after getting bumped up there to start the second period on Sunday in New Jersey, a 4-1 Sharks win. It would seem he has a chance to stick there now that Tomas Hertl has shifted to third line center.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” Labanc said. “They’re great players, and I’m just fortunate enough to be on that line. I’ve just got to get the puck to them and let them do all the work.”
Thornton said: “He’s forechecking hard, he’s complimenting me and Pav real nicely. He’s been working extremely hard to fit in, and he’s done a great job.”
***Patrick Marleau will be honored in a pregame ceremony for scoring his 500th career goal on Feb. 2 in Vancouver. He will also become just the 10th player in league history to skate in 600 consecutive games. That iron man streak began on April 9, 2009.
KEEP AN EYE ON...
Sharks: Joe Thornton. The veteran center brings a three-game point streak into tonight’s game (2g, 2a), including his first two goals of the season in a manned net. Thornton is now just four assists away from 1,000 in his career.
Panthers: Jaromir Jagr. The Panthers winger is celebrating his 45th birthday today, and with his 10th goal of the season on Saturday, he’s scored double-digit goals in each of his 23 seasons in the league.
Kevin Labanc – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier – Tomas Hertl – Joel Ward
Micheal Haley – Chris Tierney – Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
Martin Jones (starter)
Jonathan Huberdeau – Aleksander Barkov – Jaromir Jagr
Jussi Jokinen – Vincent Trocheck – Reilly Smith
Michael Sgarbossa – Nick Bjugstad – Jonathan Marchessault
Shawn Thornton – Derek MacKenzie – Colton Sceviour
Keith Yandle – Jason Demers
Mark Pysyk – Aaron Ekblad
Michael Matheson – Alex Petrovic
Sharks: Joonas Donskoi (upper body) and Dylan DeMelo (broken wrist) are out.
“He was a trooper, three-year-old, standing behind the bench all game. I thought I have a three-year-old, that’s a tough feat to do. So, come on back and meet some of the boys.” – Joe Thornton, on bringing a young fan into the dressing room after Sunday’s game in New Jersey