In the Crease: Flames vs. Sharks

Highlights: Stars score lone SO goal to hand Sharks first loss

In the Crease: Flames vs. Sharks
October 19, 2013, 9:45 am
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The Sharks are coming off their first defeat of the season, a 4-3 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. (USATSI)

INSIDE THE MACHUP

- San Jose has won five of its last six home games against Calgary. Four of these six contests have been decided by one goal.

- Calgary has been shorthanded just 14 times so far in the 2013-14 season, which, entering this weekend, was the fewest times in the NHL.

- Entering this weekend, San Jose's 10 third-period goals were fourth most in the NHL. Thursday's loss to the Stars was the first time in 2013-14 that the Sharks have not scored at least once in the third period in a game this season.

- Jiri Hudler has had at least one point in every game so far this season. But the Flames' winger has had little success in his career against the Sharks, recording just eight points (2 G, 6 A) in 23 games.

- Patrick Marleau has scored a goal in six of his seven games so far this season, including in each of his last four; entering this weekend he led the NHL in the most games with a goal in 2013-14.

- Thursday's loss to the Dallas Stars was the first time all season that Logan Couture has not had at least one point in a game this season. Since the start of the 2012-13 season, the Sharks are 23-4-4 (.806) when Couture has 1+ point, compared to 8-12-4 (.417) when he has no points.

Programming note: Sharks-Flames coverage gets underway today at 6:30 p.m. only on Comcast SportsNet California

Where they stand
Sharks: 6-0-1, 13 points, 1st Pacific Division, 1st Western Conference
Flames: 3-1-2, 8 points, 6th Pacific Division, 9th Western Conference

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 4.71 (1st)
Goals-against per game: 1.71 (3rd)
Power play: 22.9 percent (11th)
Penalty kill: 85.7 percent (6th)

Flames
Goals per game: 3.33 (7th)
Goals-against per game: 3.17 (25th)
Power play: 18.2 percent (16th)
Penalty kill: 71.4 percent (29th)

Probable lines

Sharks
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Tyler Kennedy – Logan Couture – Patrick Marleau
Matt Nieto – Joe Pavelski – Tommy Wingels
James Sheppard – Andrew Desjardins – Matt Pelech

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Matt Irwin – Brad Stuart
Scott Hannan – Jason Demers

Antti Niemi (confirmed starter)
Alex Stalock

Flames
Curtis Glencross – Ben Street – Lee Stempniak
Sven Baertschi – Sean Monahan – Jiri Hudler
TJ Galiardi – Mikael Backlund – Lance Bouma
Tim Jackman – Joe Colbourne – Brian McGrattan

Mark Giordano – TJ Brodie
Kris Russell – Dennis Wideman
Shane O’Brien – Chris Butler

Karri Ramo (confirmed starter)
Joey MacDonald

Last game

Sharks: The Sharks lost for the first time in seven games, 4-3 in a shootout in Dallas. Tyler Kennedy’s first goal opened the scoring just nine seconds into the game, and Matt Nieto and Patrick Marleau also scored, but San Jose blew three separate leads before bowing in the shootout. Antti Niemi, who has played every minute of every game, made 28 saves in his first defeat.

Flames: Calgary lost for the first time in regulation on Wednesday night in Anaheim, 3-2. Lee Stempniak scored a shorthanded goal to cut Anaheim’s first period lead to 2-1, and Jiri Hudler’s goal made it 3-2 in the third, but the Ducks hung on for their 17th straight win over the Flames in Anaheim. Joey MacDonald made 19 saves on 22 shots.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Matt Nieto. The rookie’s blazing speed has been noticeable at times through his first seven career NHL games, including on a brilliant goal Thursday in Dallas. Nieto even got a chance on the Joe Thornton-Brent Burns line for a stretch, switching places with Tomas Hertl, before moving back alongside Joe Pavelski on the third line wing. Nieto has two goals and three assists for five points this season.

[RELATED: Sharks rookie Nieto impresses]

Flames: TJ Galiardi. Remember him? Galiardi struggled for much of his season-plus in San Jose, but had some success late last season alongside Thornton and Burns. The Sharks moved him to Calgary in order to make room for Hertl and Tyler Kennedy, and he’s got a goal and two assists for three points in six games. Against the Sharks, he has just one assist and is minus-8 in nine career games.

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Raffi Torres (right ACL surgery), Marty Havlat (offseason pelvic surgery), Adam Burish (back surgery), and Dan Boyle (head into boards) are out.

Flames: Mike Cammalleri (bruised hand), Matt Stajan (bruised leg) and David Jones (upper body) are out.

Season/All-Time series

This is the first of five games between the Pacific Division rivals. The Sharks are 7-2-1 in their last 10 against the Flames, and Antti Niemi is 10-2-1 in his career against Calgary, tied for the most wins he has against any NHL team.

All-time, the Sharks are just 39-46-8-4 against the Flames.

Quoteable

“Dan [Boyle is] a world-class player. [Jason Demers] has been playing well, but Dan’s a world-class defenseman, and, yeah, we miss him.” – Joe Thornton

Burning question

Should the Sharks find a place in the lineup for Marty Havlat if he’s healthy, or stick with their current forward lines? Leave your answer in the comments section below.