Programming note – Sharks-Penguins coverage starts tonight at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California
WHERE THEY STAND
Sharks: 6-5-0, 12 points, 2nd Pacific Division
Penguins: 7-2-2, 16 points, 2nd Metropolitan Division
PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES
***Seeking some offense and riding a two-game losing streak, the Sharks are again shuffling up their lines (see below). Tomas Hertl returns to the top line, while Patrick Marleau will play center for the first time since the second round of last year’s playoffs, skating between Mikkel Boedker and Melker Karlsson.
“It’s just about resetting and getting back to some of the things we do well,” said Joe Pavelski, the Sharks’ leading scorer with 12 points (4g, 8a).
DeBoer’s line changes inspired the team on Thursday against Calgary after a sleepy start, but it wasn’t enough in a 3-2 loss.
“The nice thing about us with the depth we have, we’ve got a lot of good options,” DeBoer said after Saturday’s morning skate. “When you lose two in a row and haven’t scored as much as we’d like, that’s what happens.”
***Tonight will mark the return of Matt Nieto, who was a healthy scratch for the past five games. Nieto, who turns 24 today, will be on the fourth line with Chris Tierney and Tommy Wingels.
“It’s no fun not playing, so really excited right now,” said Nieto, who is scoreless in five games this season, and hasn’t played since a defensive zone blunder in Detroit on Oct. 22. “Just have to bring energy to the team tonight and do what I can to stay in.”
DeBoer said: “I know he’s hungry to get back in, and that’s what depth guys do. It’s his job to come in tonight and make a difference.”
Micheal Haley will come out.
***Pittsburgh beat the Sharks on Oct. 20 at PPG Paints Arena, erasing a 2-0 third period hole to win 3-2 in regulation. That was despite missing Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang and Matt Murray, all key cogs to its Stanley Cup championship.
“You look at the lineup tonight, real similar to the one they had in the Final last year," DeBoer said. "Obviously it will be a different game than the first game with the personnel they’re got in, but a familiar opponent.”
***The Penguins are hot, with a 4-0-1 mark in their last five, although they lost in overtime in Los Angeles in their most recent game on Thursday, 3-2. Tonight is the conclusion of a four-game road trip.
***Pittsburgh is 5-for-15 on the power play over its last five games, while the Sharks are a perfect 17-for-17 on the PK over their last six. The last power play goal San Jose allowed was to Pittsburgh’s Patric Hornqvist on Oct. 20.
KEEP AN EYE ON...
Sharks: Melker Karlsson. Karlsson brings a two-game point streak into Saturday’s game, including a goal on Thursday against Calgary. The 26-year-old has been working his way up the lineup, even spending time with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski against the Flames. Karlsson scored the game-winning goal in Game 5 of last year’s Stanley Cup Final against Pittsburgh.
Penguins: Kris Letang. The defenseman, who scored the game-winning goal in the Stanley Cup-clinching Penguins win on June 12, missed the first rematch two weeks ago due to injury but is back in the lineup now. He has six points (1g, 5a) in six games on the season.
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Mikkel Boedker – Patrick Marleau – Melker Karlsson
Matt Nieto – Chris Tierney – Tommy Wingels
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
Martin Jones (confirmed starter)
Carl Hagelin – Sidney Crosby – Patric Hornqvist
Chris Kunitz – Evgeni Malkin – Phil Kessel
Scott Wilson – Nick Bonino – Bryan Rust
Conor Sheary – Matt Cullen – Eric Fehr
Brian Dumoulin – Kris Letang
Olli Maatta – Trevor Daley
Ian Cole – Justin Schultz
Matt Murray (confirmed starter)
Penguins: Derrick Pouliot (undisclosed) is out.
“I think sometimes you expect certain things to happen when you play certain teams, which we shouldn’t. With Pittsburgh, you have to prepare like it’s the best team in the league. You have to earn everything that you get, so you have to come ready to play. You need everybody.” – Paul Martin