Sharks

NHL Gameday: Burns carries historic road goal streak into Buffalo

NHL Gameday: Burns carries historic road goal streak into Buffalo

Programming note: Sharks-Sabres coverage starts today at 3:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California.
 
WHERE THEY STAND
 
Sharks: 33-17-3, 69 points, 1st Pacific Division
Sabres: 21-21-10, 52 points, 7th Atlantic Division
 
PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES
 
***The Sharks, 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, will begin their final road trip against Eastern Conference opponents tonight. Buffalo has been a difficult place for them to win, as they’re just 2-15-1 in franchise history in upstate New York, although Patrick Marleau’s goal there last season gave them a 2-1 overtime victory. 

San Jose is 16-6-0 against the Eastern Conference, the best mark among Western Conference clubs. They visit Boston, Philadelphia and New Jersey before returning home on Feb. 15 to host Florida.
 
***While they’re highly unlikely to qualify for a playoff spot, the Sabres have been particularly good in their own building lately, bringing a 5-0-1 point streak into tonight’s game with San Jose. 
 
Buffalo will be playing the second of a back-to-back, losing 2-1 in New Jersey on Monday night, while the Sharks have been off since Saturday’s 3-2 shootout loss at home to Arizona.
 
***Brent Burns will bring a remarkable eight-game road goal-scoring streak into tonight’s game. According to Elias, he is the first defenseman in NHL history to score a goal in eight consecutive road games. The Norris and Hart Trophy candidate continues to lead all NHL defensemen in goals (22) and points (55). 
 
KEEP AN EYE ON...
 
Sharks: Logan Couture. Since missing a game in Los Angeles on Jan. 18 due to illness, Couture has at least one point in seven of his last eight games, posting four goals and five assists over that span. His line with Mikkel Boedker and Patrick Marleau has been the Sharks’ most consistent over the past couple weeks.
 
Sabres: Jack Eichel. After missing the first month-and-a-half of the season due to a high ankle sprain, the second-year center has 23 points (12g, 11a) in 31 games. He has been particularly good at home, with 13 points in 14 games at KeyBank Center, including five multi-point efforts.
 
PROBABLE LINES
 
Sharks

Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Marcus Sorensen – Micheal Haley – Melker Karlsson
 
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
 
Martin Jones
Aaron Dell
 
Sabres

Marcus Foligno – Jack Eichel – Sam Reinhart
Matt Moulson – Ryan O’Reilly – Kyle Okposo
Evander Kane – Zemgus Girgensons – Brian Gionta
Justin Bailey – Nic Deslauriers – Tyler Ennis
 
Dmitry Kulikov – Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe – Coey Franson
Josh Gorges – Justin Falk
 
Robin Lehner
Anders Nilsson
 
INJURIES
 
Sharks: Joonas Donskoi (upper body) and Dylan DeMelo (broken wrist) are out.
 
Sabres: Cody McCormick (blood clots), Johan Larsson (wrist), William Carrier (knee) and Zach Bogosian (ribs) are out.
 
QUOTEABLE

 
“Looking forward to the stretch [run] here, and if we can capitalize on a good road trip, that could put us in a pretty good position down the road.” – Joel Ward

Hurricanes poke fun at Petr Mrazek after fighting Sharks' Joe Thornton

Hurricanes poke fun at Petr Mrazek after fighting Sharks' Joe Thornton

Thursday night’s matchup between the Sharks and the Carolina Hurricanes featured quite a ruckus, which began when Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek slashed Sharks veteran Joe Thornton after a play, prompting Thornton to put Mrazek on his back with a vicious forearm shiver.

During Friday morning’s practice, the Hurricanes decided to have some fun with their goalie by drawing an outline of where their net-minder gracefully hit the ice.

Mrazek remained on his back for several minutes after the blow but remained in the game.

[RELATED: What we learned in Sharks' shootout loss vs. Hurricanes]

The Sharks and Thornton may have won the fight, but the Hurricanes won the game 3-2 in a wild shootout.

Sharks say Petr Mrazek 'flopped', got what he deserved from Joe Thornton

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USATSI

Sharks say Petr Mrazek 'flopped', got what he deserved from Joe Thornton

There was no shortage of electricity in Thursday night's rumble between the Sharks and Hurricanes, which San Jose got a point out of after falling 3-2 in the shootout

But the game really went on the verge of exploding when Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek went after Joe Thornton -- which unleashed some next-level fury that Sharks fans on social media like to refer to as "Angry Joe."

"Jumbo plays hard, and the goalie went after him," Logan Couture said after Thursday's loss. "So, I don't know if the goalie expected to get pushed like he did, but if you're going to go at someone you're probably going to get pushed."

Thornton went to give the puck a nudge as he skated by Carolina's net, realizing a bit late that Mrazek already had frozen it. But it was enough to irk the Canes' netminder, who then attempted to violently slash Thornton and subsequently stood up out of the crease as if to square off with the future Hall of Famer. 

Thornton responded with a half-push, half-punch to Mrazek's face, sending the goalie toppling over backward to the ice. Mrazek remained there as a scrum ensued behind Carolina's net. 

[RELATED: Watch Jumbo send 'Canes goalie to ice with forearm shiver]

"I think it definitely gets your group emotionally engaged in the game when you have a goalie swinging a stick at a guy like, but, as you saw, Joe can take care of himself," Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer chuckled. 

Even after Thornton was ushered over to the penalty box to serve two minor penalties, Mrazek was slow to get up off of the ice. The long delay in play left some wondering if Mrazek had a concussion, but he stayed in the game. 

This, of course, raised a couple of mid-game questions. Should Mrazek have come out of the game and gone straight into the league's concussion protocol? Was it actually the fall and not Thornton's force that caused him to labor on the ice for so long? Or, was Mrazek waiting things out so Thornton would receive more discipline?

Sharks goalie Aaron Dell offered up his two cents after the game. "He either got hit really hard and should have gone into concussion protocol or he flopped a bit, but I guess that's the ref's call," Dell said with a shrug.

Mrazek didn't offer up much to the media after the game, calling it a "cheap shot" by Thornton before saying he has suffered hits "worse than those, so it's not bad." So, perhaps we'll never know the real story.

While there is a lot of attention on his tiff with Mrazek, Thornton also deserves credit for playing an incredible game. He led the third line along with Marcus Sorensen and Kevin Labanc to one of its most impactful games so far this season, and set up Sorensen for San Jose's first goal on the evening. With the Sharks' road trip continuing with a back-to-back this weekend against the Floridian teams, getting that kind of bottom-six contribution is vital.

"He's playing well," Couture said of Thornton. "We need [the third line]. Can't win with only the top six scoring. Some nights you need the bottom six to score, and I think that line's looked really good."