NHL Gameday: Jets surging as they host Sharks

NHL Gameday: Jets surging as they host Sharks

Programming note – Sharks-Jets coverage starts today at 4:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California


Sharks: 38-19-7, 83 points, 1st Pacific Division
Jets: 30-30-6, 66 points, 5th Central Division


***The Sharks had their eight-game point streak snapped last night in Minnesota, losing 3-1 to the Wild in a game that wasn’t as close as the score. San Jose, 18-12-3 on the road this season, is wrapping up a brief two-game road trip before opening a season-long six-game homestand on Thursday with the Capitals.

***Winnipeg brings a 5-1-2 record in its last eight games into tonight’s third and final game with San Jose. The Jets, who have scored at least three goals in each of their last eight games, are three points behind St. Louis for the second and final wild card spot with the Kings also above them in the standings.

***The Sharks won the first two meetings of the season series: Jan. 16 at home, 5-2; and on Jan. 24 in Winnipeg, 4-3. Aaron Dell got the win in the Sharks’ only other visit to MTS Centre, making 31 saves, and could start again in the second of a back-to-back.

***Joonas Donskoi, who was considered healthy yesterday, is expected to play for the first time since getting hurt on Jan. 23. He has 15 points (6g, 9a) in 44 games.

***Joe Thornton remains stuck on 999 career assists, just one shy of becoming the 13th player in NHL history to have 1,000 for his career. He has just one assist, on an emtpy net goal, in his last five games.

Sharks: Kevin Labanc. The rookie left wing has now gone 25 games without a goal, and could be due for a stint in the AHL once Jannik Hansen finally sorts out his immigration issues. The Sharks’ top line managed a combined two shots on goal on Sunday in Minnesota, one each for Labanc and Joe Pavelski, and has been disturbingly quiet since the bye week.

Jets: Patrik Laine. The youngster tallied his 32nd goal on Saturday, leading all rookies and trialing only Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby for most in the NHL. His 58 points is three more than Toronto’s Auston Matthews, despite Laine playing six fewer games. At this moment, the 18-year-old is probably the Calder Trophy favorite.


Kevin Labanc – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Joonas Donskoi – Tomas Hertl – Joel Ward
Micheal Haley – Chris Tierney – Melker Karlsson

Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – Dylan DeMelo

Martin Jones
Aaron Dell

Mathieu Perreault – Mark Scheifele – Patrik Laine
Nikolaj Ehlers – Bryan Little – Blake Wheeler
Shawn Matthias – Adam Lowry – Joel Armia
Marko Dano – Andrew Copp – Chris Thorburn

Toby Enstrom – Dustin Byfuglien
Josh Morrissey – Jacob Trouba
Ben Chiarot – Paul Postma

Connor Hellebuyck
Michael Hutchinson


Sharks: David Schlemko (lower body) is questionable.

Jets: Tyler Myers (lower body) and Ondrej Pavelec (arthroscopic surgery) are out. 


“They came as advertised. They were very good. We were not as good as them. It was the proper result.” – Pete DeBoer to reporters after the Sharks’ 3-1 loss in Minnesota on Sunday

Sharks recall defenseman after Erik Karlsson was late scratch vs. Lightning


Sharks recall defenseman after Erik Karlsson was late scratch vs. Lightning

One day after All-Star defenseman Erik Karlsson was a late scratch against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Sharks placed another important blueliner on injured reserve. 

Marc-Edouard Vlasic headed to IR, and the Sharks recalled defenseman Jacob Middleton to take his place on the active roster. Vlasic practiced with the team Friday, but now will not play in San Jose's final two games before the All-Star break.

Middleton's presence indicates Karlsson might not be good to go, either. The Sharks have carried eight defenseman on their roster all season, and Middleton's recall gives San Jose two healthy defenseman who can take Karlsson's place in the lineup. Joakim Ryan did so in Saturday's 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Karlsson's undisclosed injury also might place his status for Saturday's NHL All-Star Game in San Jose in doubt, assuming he does not play Monday against the Florida Panthers and/or Tuesday against the Washington Capitals. He did not play in the final six-and-a-half minutes of the Sharks' win over the Pittsburgh Penguins last Tuesday, and reportedly was limping after their loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday. 

Vlasic has not played since Jan. 2, when he left in the final 10 minutes of the Sharks' 5-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche. San Jose coach Peter DeBoer told reporters Friday that Vlasic was getting closer to a return, but the team did not want to risk further injury. 

“We’re not going to put him out there and get him reinjured,” DeBoer said at the time. “Especially with the 10-day break on the horizon. But if he can help us and get in there, then he will.”

Middleton made his NHL debut on Jan. 5 against the Lightning. He had just 5:02 of ice time in that game, and played three games with the AHL San Jose Barracuda after the Sharks activated defenseman Justin Braun from IR.

Scoreboard not indicative of Sharks' effort in 6-3 loss vs. Lightning

Scoreboard not indicative of Sharks' effort in 6-3 loss vs. Lightning

After a hot streak that churned out seven consecutive wins, the Sharks have lost two games in a row. But don’t be mistaken -- the losses against the Arizona Coyotes and Tampa Bay Lightning were definitely not the same.

Wednesday’s contest against the Coyotes was one of San Jose’s least inspired games of the season. Saturday’s contest against the Lightning, on the other hand, was a significantly better effort. 

“I didn’t think the score was super indicative of how the game went,” Evander Kane told the media after the 6-3 defeat. “I thought we carried the play, to be honest, for most of the game.”

He wasn’t wrong. San Jose pushed the tempo for a good chunk of Saturday’s game before Tampa Bay gained some late momentum and built up their lead. While the Sharks fell to the Lightning, there were positives -- as well as lessons learned -- they can take away from a season series that consisted of two playoff-caliber games.

“I thought it was a little bit of an opportunistic game for them,” Kane continued. “Every time they got an opportunity, it seemed (like it went) in the back of our net.”

Head coach Peter DeBoer agreed. “We made some mistakes, I think mental mistakes tonight, taking some penalties when we didn’t need to,” he explained. “A couple decisions you can’t make against an opportunistic team like that. Having said that, I thought when we had it at 2-2 we had a couple opportunities to grab control of the game.”

The Sharks certainly showed they hadn’t lost their composure when the Lightning jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. Thanks to a two-goal effort from Kane -- one at the end of the first frame and another to open up the second -- San Jose was able to tie things up. In the end, they outshot Tampa Bay and were better in the faceoff circle. 

However, the Sharks also got into some penalty trouble which gave the Bolts the opportunities they needed to retake the lead and create some breathing room on the scoreboard. A tandem of penalties gave Tampa Bay just 17 seconds of five-on-three power play time, but it was enough time for them to gain momentum, and reigning Norris Trophy winner Victor Hedman found the back of the net during the resulting five-on-four.

Hedman’s marker gave the Lightning another two-goal lead, which was easily the turning point in the game. The Sharks kept pushing but couldn’t beat Tampa Bay netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy. “We had some chances that didn’t go in,” Kane admitted.

Clearly, this was a game the Sharks never felt out of, especially since they defeated the Lightning in San Jose just a couple weeks ago. There was some speculation that Erik Karlsson’s sudden absence from the lineup was a factor. Kane pointed out when asked about it by the press that the Sharks expected to put up a winning effort nonetheless.

[RELATED: Sharks without Karlsson (late scratch) vs. Lightning]

“It’s a loss but it’s not an excuse,” Kane said. “We played with three guys who are normally not in the lineup against [Tampa] at home and beat them.”

The Sharks now have to take what they learned from the loss and apply it to the last two games of this road trip. They have yet another back-to-back -- this time against Florida and Washington -- before the All-Star break.

“We’ll move on and regroup and get ready for Monday,” Kane said.