Sharks own Caps; Thornton among league leaders

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Sharks own Caps; Thornton among league leaders

WASHINGTON, DC Simply put, the San Jose Sharks have owned the Washington Capitals for the last 12 years.The Sharks have won 16 of the last 17 matchups between the two clubs, including both games this season in decisive fashion. San Jose claimed a home win over Washington on Jan. 7, and followed that up with a 5-3 win on Monday night at Verizon Center behind four points from Joe Pavelski.According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Sharks .941 points percentage against the Capitals is the highest by one NHL team against another since the start of the 1999-2000 season. The only loss came on Oct. 15, 2009 at Washington.

RELATED: Sharks-Caps box score
Todd McLellans team has now won its last five games against the Caps, but the coach wasnt aware of that run of success that obviously predates his time as San Joses head coach.There arent many secrets in the game, with video and the pre-scout. We seem to be able to get the lead on them, which I think is a real big thing, McLellan said after Mondays game. Special teams have been important the last few times that weve played them. Thats probably been the difference. Other than that, there isnt a magic wand or any secret formula to beating them, for us, anyhow.The Capitals are one of three Eastern Conference teams to appear twice on the Sharks schedule this season. Boston and Tampa Bay, which the Sharks visit on Thursday, are the others.Another big night for Thornton
Sharks captain Joe Thornton remained hot on Tuesday, racking up three more assists. In his last six games, Thornton has two goals and eight assists for 10 points.RELATED: Joe Thornton game logs
Monday was the 49th time in Thorntons career hes had three or more assists in a game, the second-highest total among active players, according to Elias. Philadelphias Jaromir Jagr has done it 56 times.San Joses leading scorer with 50 points, Thorntons recent hot streak has him climbing up the league leader charts, too. He's now tied for fifth with 38 assists and is tied with four other players for 20th in the NHL in scoring.

NHL Gameday: Couture in, Schlemko out for Sharks vs Sens

NHL Gameday: Couture in, Schlemko out for Sharks vs Sens

Programming note – Sharks-Senators coverage starts today at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 15-9-1, 31 points, 2nd Pacific Division
Senators: 15-9-2, 32 points, 2nd Atlantic Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***After undergoing a minor surgical procedure on Saturday to get a screw removed from his previously repaired ankle, Logan Couture is good go to against the Senators. Couture has eight points (6g, 2a) in his last nine games.

Defenseman David Schlemko, though, is out with an apparent leg or ankle injury after he was hurt – but later returned – against Montreal on Friday. Pete DeBoer indicated Schlemko’s injury isn’t serious.

“I came back from our weekend off and all the news was positive, so I would say he’s day-to-day,” said the coach.

Dylan DeMelo will draw in on the third pair with Brenden Dillon. Mirco Mueller was also recalled from the Barracuda.

***The Sharks resume their schedule after a rare four-day break, and will attempt to pick up where they left off. Friday’s 2-1 win over the Canadiens was their sixth in the last seven games.

“I know we’re recharged mentally and physically, but we’ve got to find that level again as quickly as possible and hopefully it doesn’t take too long tonight,” Pete DeBoer said.

Couture said the approach would be to, “just try and keep it simple. Stay out of the box, forecheck on them, get some shifts where we’re not caught in our own end.”

***Ottawa will be playing the second of a difficult four-game road trip. They were spanked by the Penguins on Monday, 8-5, and flew across the country on Tuesday.

If they are looking for sympathy for their schedule, they won’t get it from the Sharks’ coach.

“I find it sometimes a little comical when I hear Eastern teams complaining about travel and road trips. I read something that they were not happy with their schedule. Give me a break,” DeBoer said with a smile. “It’s what we deal with, and you do the best you can."

Ottawa is 6-4-0 on the road, while San Jose is 9-3-0 at SAP Center.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Martin Jones. The Sharks goalie has been a rock during the team’s recent upswing, and his 1.99 goals-against average for the season in good for fifth in the NHL (minimum eight games played). Since getting pulled against the Penguins on Nov. 5, Jones is 8-2-1 with a 1.46 GAA and .945 SP and two shutouts. On Monday, he was named as the NHL’s Third Star of the Week.

Senators: Erik Karlsson. Karlsson leads the Senators in scoring with 24 points (6g, 18a), surpassing Brent Burns for most in the league among defensemen. The two-time Norris Trophy winner and Ottawa captain posted four points on Monday in Pittsburgh (1g, 3a), and has nine points in his last eight games. He’s third in the league in average time on ice (27:16 per game).

PROBABLE LINES

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

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

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Senators
Mike Hoffman – Derick Brassard – Mark Stone
Ryan Dzingel – Kyle Turris – Bobby Ryan
Zack Smith – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Tom Pyatt
Buddy Robinson – Chris Kelly – Chris Neil

Andreas Englund – Erik Karlsson
Dion Phaneuf – Cody Cedi
Mark Borowiecki – Chris Wideman

Mike Condon (starter)
Andrew Hammond

INJURIES/SCRATCHES

Sharks: David Schlemko (lower body) and Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) are out.

Senators: Marc Methot (hip), Fredrik Claesson (lower body), Curtis Lazar (concussion) are Craig Anderson (personal) are out. 

QUOTEABLE

“I think I have a lot to improve. I think I’m pretty happy the way I’m playing two ways. I think I’m responsible defensively and creating scoring chances, but just kind of not being able to get on the scoreboard enough. I want to score more.” – Joonas Donskoi

Sharks' Donskoi 'not getting frustrated' during scoring drought

Sharks' Donskoi 'not getting frustrated' during scoring drought

SAN JOSE – Throughout the Sharks’ two-month playoff run, as the team attracted a grander media horde with every round, Joonas Donskoi became more and more popular.

Who was this 24-year-old former fourth round pick of the Florida Panthers, who was such a key contributor to the Sharks’ success? Inquiring minds wanted to know.

The Finland native scored some of the Sharks’ biggest goals during that longest postseason in franchise history. In Game 5 against the Kings in the first round, Donskoi scored a third period goal that put San Jose back up to stay, after Los Angeles had stormed back from a 3-0 hole.

In the Stanley Cup Final, his overtime marker on a turnaround wrist shot in Game 3 kept the Sharks alive, and elicited perhaps the loudest cheer ever heard at SAP Center.

In total, Donskoi contributed 12 points (6g, 6a) in 24 games skating on the second line.

“It was a great run in the playoffs, a lot of great experiences,” Donskoi said.

The expectations for Donskoi were naturally raised headed into this season. Twenty goals and 50 points didn’t seem out of reach for him after the strides he took in his rookie campaign.

So far, though, those goals and points aren’t quite there. Donskoi has just two goals and six assists for eight points in 25 games, while averaging nearly 15 minutes a night. He’s also a mainstay on the second power play unit.

Sharks coach Pete DeBoer agreed with the theory that Donskoi’s profile has risen, and opponents are probably more aware of when he’s on the ice. But it’s those expectations to build on last season that may be weighing a bit on the player.

“A different type of pressure,” DeBoer called it. “When you’re a young guy coming in and no one knows you, you’re just playing and you’re not thinking about things. He knows he can be successful in this league, and there’s a different pressure with now expecting to score and put up numbers.”

Despite Donskoi’s one solitary assist in his last eight games, DeBoer has no issues with the way he is working on a nightly basis. It’s not at all comparable to the situation that arose a week and a half ago with Mikkel Boedker, who was benched for a period and then criticized by the coach for not competing hard enough.

“I know [Donskoi’s] numbers and his scoring aren’t where [he wants], but I think consistently he brings the same effort, same game, same reliability every night,” DeBoer said. “The nice thing is even when he’s not scoring, you still can count on those things. Eventually, it’s going to come.”

Donskoi has no illusions that his numbers are down and he has “a lot to improve.” At the same time, he’s not frustrated, and indicated that his production will pick up if he keeps doing what he’s been doing.

“I’m pretty happy the way I’m playing two ways. I think I’m responsible defensively and creating scoring chances, but just kind of not being able to get on the scoreboard enough. … I feel confident the way I’m still playing. I’m not getting frustrated, or anything.”

After playing exactly 100 games last season between the regular season and playoffs – he hadn’t played more than 71 games in a season in Finland before that – there’s reason to believe that the short summer and World Cup affected him, too. 

“I think the biggest thing for me [is] playing at a high level every night. I’m not there yet,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys in this locker room [that] play at a really high level every night. Those are the guys I’m trying to watch and learn [from].”