Sharks vs. Maple Leafs watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs


Sharks vs. Maple Leafs watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs

No rest for the wicked, as the San Jose Sharks embark on yet another back-to-back on the road. This time, they’ll be following up their contest in Buffalo with Wednesday night's rumble in Toronto against the Maple Leafs.

Superstar forward Auston Matthews is set to return to the lineup after being sidelined with a shoulder injury and missing 14 games. The center has 16 points (10 goals, six assists) through 11 games played for Toronto this season.

The Leafs will no doubt enjoy having Matthews back in the mix even though they’ve been successful in his absence, going 7-3-0 in their last 10 games.

[RELATED: Marcus Sorensen showing confidence]

The Sharks, on the other hand, are looking to put more notches in the win column. They put together an impressive come-from-behind effort against the Sabres on Tuesday thanks to Joe Pavelski’s two third-period goals – before falling 3-2 in overtime

This is the second and final regular season meeting between the Sharks and Leafs for the 2019 campaign. In their previous meeting this year, the Leafs emerged victorious with a 5-3 win. Through 50 franchise meetings San Jose is 23-21-5-1 against Toronto.

Sharks projected lines and pairs:

Evander Kane – Joe Pavelski – Joonas Donskoi
Tomas Hertl – Logan Couture – Kevin Labanc
Barclay Goodrow – Joe Thornton – Marcus Sorensen
Lukas Radil – Antti Suomela – Melker Karlsson

Joakim Ryan – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Erik Karlsson
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun

Aaron Dell -- Confirmed starter
Martin Jones

Leafs projected lines and pairs:

Zach Hyman – John Tavares – Mitch Marner
Patrick Marleau – Auston Matthews – Kasperi Kapanen
Andreas Johnsson – Nazem Kadri – Connor Brown
Tyler Ennis – Par Lindholm – Josh Leivo

Morgan Rielly – Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner – Martin Marincin
Travis Dermott – Igor Ozhiganov

Frederik Andersen – projected starter
Garret Sparks

Watch Sharks' Evander Kane score first-period hat trick, make history


Watch Sharks' Evander Kane score first-period hat trick, make history

Evander Kane's second career hat trick was a first for the Sharks. 

The San Jose winger scored three goals in the first period Wednesday against the Carolina Hurricanes at SAP Center, becoming the first player in franchise history to score a hat trick in the opening 20 minutes. 

Kane opened the scoring 8:36 into the night, gathering a loose puck in the slot and firing a shot past Hurricanes goaltender -- and former Shark -- James Reimer.

The Hurricanes tied the game just over two minutes later, but Kane gave the Sharks the lead once more with a power-play goal. Kane scored his second shortly after Reimer robbed him with a glove save that the winger contended crossed the goal line. 

It didn't end up mattering, as Kane capitalized on another loose puck in the slot for his second goal with 2:41 remaining in the first period. 

Kane scored his third fewer than two-and-a-half minutes after his second. With the Sharks on the power play once more, a wide-open Kane redirected Brent Burns' point shot past Reimer to double San Jose's lead. 

[RELATED: Sharks' Labanc keeping focus on future after team's turnaround]

Kane's three first-period goals were the most the Sharks have scored in a single period all season. The 3-1 advantage they took into the first intermission was just the second lead the Sharks have had after the first 20 minutes all season. 

The Sharks probably won't have to wait as long for their next first-period lead as they did for their first first-period hat trick. 

Sharks face 'big test' vs. Hurricanes as they seek third straight win

Sharks face 'big test' vs. Hurricanes as they seek third straight win

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks appear to be bouncing back from a dismal start to their season with two wins in a row. But they face new challenges as they continue their homestand against the Carolina Hurricanes.

"It's a big test for us," head coach Peter DeBoer told reporters during Wednesday's morning skate. "You just look at the analytics. Number one in the league in creating scoring chances off of the rush, in the top two or three of creating offense. They're scoring in bunches. (There are) a lot of different things there you're going to have to deal with -- maybe the best defense corps in the league one through six, and they're getting great goaltending. That's why their record is what it is."

Of course, San Jose is looking to jump on the Canes early, especially since the Sharks are hosting and playing on the tail-end of a back-to-back. They beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 in LA on Tuesday night. But when a team is as good as Carolina is, there's a little more to it.

"We just can't beat ourselves," DeBoer said. "We know what they do well. It's exactly like when we play playoff hockey against an opponent. You've got to take away what they do well or not feed what they do well. And at the same time, try to establish our own game. That's something I've talked about since day one."

Multiple Sharks contributed to the team's 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Sunday. Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, and Kevin Labanc all found the back of the net while Martin Jones stopped 29 of 30 shots that came his way and the penalty kill went a perfect four-for-four. But DeBoer knows his team's overall game still has another level it needs to find.

"We won the last game and I thought we were better defensively," he said. "But we only generated 20 shots, We've got to find a way to start getting a four-line identity where we're harder to play against and spend more time in the other team's end."

[RELATED: Kevin Labanc focused on future during turnaround]

The Hurricanes visit SAP Center with a 6-1-0 overall record on the season and are undefeated through three road contests.

San Jose went 1-0-1 against Carolina last season, tallying their solo win at home 5-1. The Sharks are 20-17-0-3 all-time through 40 games against the Hurricanes.