In the Crease: Injury-ravaged Sharks visit Preds

Couture to have hand surgery, expected to miss 3-4 weeks

In the Crease: Injury-ravaged Sharks visit Preds
January 7, 2014, 11:30 am
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The Predators managed to get three goals past Antti Niemi in their December 14 win in Nashville. (USATSI)

Programming note: Sharks-Predators coverage gets underway at 4:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live, only on Comcast SportsNet California

Where they stand
Sharks: 27-10-6, 60 points, 2nd Pacific Division, 4th Western Conference
Predators: 18-19-6, 42 points, 7th Central Division, 12th Western Conference

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 3.14 (5th)
Goals-against per game: 2.46 (10th)
Power play: 18.9 percent (12th)
Penalty kill: 82.1 percent (13th)

Predators
Goals per game: 2.37 (25th)
Goals-against per game: 2.91 (T -20th)
Power play: 20.9 percent (7th)
Penalty kill: 82.1 percent (14th)

Probable lines

Sharks
Joe Pavelski – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Bracken Kearns – Patrick Marleau – Matt Nieto
James Sheppard – Andrews Desjardins – Freddie Hamilton
Eriah Hayes – John McCarthy – Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Dan Boyle
Brad Stuart – Justin Braun
Scott Hannan – Jason Demers

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Predators
Colin Wilson – Mike Fisher – Patric Hornqvist
Gabriel Bourque – Matt Cullen – Matt Hendricks
Nick Spaling – David Legwand – Craig Smith
Eric Nystrom – Paul Gaustad – Viktor Stalberg

Shea Weber – Roman Josi
Mattias Ekholm – Seth Jones
Kevin Klein – Ryan Ellis

Marek Mazanec
Carter Hutton

The latest

Sharks: After falling behind early in the third, the Sharks got a goal from Brent Burns to tie the Blackhawks at 2-2, and went on to a shootout win at United Center on Sunday, 3-2. The Sharks had been 0-5-1 in their last six visits to Chicago, and improved to 12-9-3 away from home. Jason Demers scored in the first period for the Sharks, and Alex Stalock made 33 saves in his fifth win. San Jose wraps up a three-game road trip tonight.

Predators: Nashville has lost its last three (0-1-2), all on the road, including a 2-1 defeat in Carolina on Sunday in which Patric Hornqvist’s power play goal was their only scoring. The Predators kick off a five-game homestand tonight against the Sharks, where they are 10-8-3. Overall, Nashville is just 2-5-3 in its last 10.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Patrick Marleau. The newly minted Olympian looks to be shifting to second line center, now that Logan Couture will miss at least three weeks with a hand injury. Marleau leads the Sharks in goals with 19, is second in scoring with 41 points, and has two goals and three assists in his last four games. Can he keep producing at that rate now that he’s lost the center he’s been playing with all year?

Predators: Shea Weber. The Sharks will likely keep their top line of Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns together, and that group will see lots of the Predators’ franchise defenseman. Weber is fourth in the NHL in ice time per game, and is tied for first among NHL defensemen with 10 goals, and was also named to Canada’s Olympic team today.

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee surgery), Marty Havlat (lower body), Raffi Torres (right knee surgery), Adam Burish (back surgery), Tommy Wingels (upper body), Tyler Kennedy (flu), and Logan Couture (right hand) are out.

Predators: Pekka Rinne (hip surgery) is out.

Season/All-Time series

This is the second of three meetings between the Sharks and Predators. Nashville claimed a 3-2 win on its home ice on Dec. 14 behind a goal and an assist by Viktor Stalberg.

The Sharks are 29-19-2-6 all-time against Nashville, but the Predators have gained at least a point in 10 of their last 12 games against San Jose (7-2-3).

Nashville visits the SAP Center on April 5.

Quoteable

“It still was a tough task to score only two and win a game against Chicago. You’ve done something pretty well.” – Todd McLellan, after the 3-2 Sharks win in Chicago on Sunday night

Burning question

Who would you start in net tonight against the Predators, and why?

Leave your answer in the comments section below.