In the Crease: Sharks close out homestand with Leafs

In the Crease: Sharks close out homestand with Leafs
March 11, 2014, 9:00 am
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Tommy Wingels is coming off his second career two-goal game as the Sharks get set to take on the Leafs Tuesday in San Jose. (USATSI)

Programming note: Sharks-Maple Leafs coverage gets underway on Comcast SportsNet California at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live

Where they stand
Sharks: 41-17-7, 89 points, 2nd Pacific Division, 5th Western Conference
Maple Leafs: 35-23-8, 78 points, 2nd Atlantic Division, 3rd Eastern Conference

The latest

Sharks: The Sharks complete a four-game homestand tonight. They beat Montreal on Saturday, thanks to three points from Logan Couture (1g, 2a), two goals from Tommy Wingels and Antti Niemi’s first shutout in more than four months. The Sharks improved to 6-1-1 in their last eight games to draw to within four points of division-leading Anaheim, and begin a three-game road trip in Columbus on Thursday.

Maple Leafs: Toronto did the Sharks a favor by beating the Ducks last night at Honda Center, 3-1. Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak each had one goal and two assists, as Toronto jumped out to a 3-0 lead but was generally flat for the second half of the game. The Maple Leafs are playing the second of a five-game road trip, and are 14-3-3 in their last 20 games.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Tommy Wingels. The winger registered the second two-goal game of his career, and first since Nov. 21 vs. Tampa Bay, in Saturday’s 4-0 win over Montreal by going hard to the net on both markers. The 25-year-old is sixth on the Sharks with 14 goals overall, and has been credited with a team-leading 161 hits – 56 more than the next closest player on the Sharks (Brent Burns, 105).

Maple Leafs: Phil Kessel. One of Joe Pavelski’s linemates in the Olympics, Kessel is the league’s second-leading scorer with 73 points, including 12 points in his last eight games (4g, 8a). The winger is also second in the league in shots on goal, while playing on the top line with Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk, who was also on the Olympic line with Pavelski.

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 2.92 (7th)
Goals-against per game: 2.34 (4th)
Power play: 16.2 percent (22nd)
Penalty kill: 84.0 percent (6th)

Maple Leafs
Goals per game: 2.83 (10th)
Goals-against per game: 2.96 (26th)
Power play: 21.0 percent (6th)
Penalty kill: 78.3 percent (28th)

Probable lines

Sharks
Joe Pavelski – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Matt Nieto
Raffi Torres – James Sheppard – Tommy Wingels
Tyler Kennedy – Andrew Desjardins – Adam Burish

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Jason Demers
Scott Hannan – Justin Braun
Matt Irwin – Dan Boyle


Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock


Maple Leafs
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul – Nazem Kadri – Nikolai Kulemin
Mason Raymond – Peter Holland – Troy Bodie
Frazer McLaren – Jay McClement – Paul Ranger

Carl Gunnarsson – Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner – Cody Franson
Tim Gleason – Morgan Rielly

James Reimer
Jonathan Bernier

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee surgery) and Brad Stuart (upper body) are out. Raffi Torres (soreness) and Marty Havlat (strength and mobility) are questionable.

[RELATED: Torres could miss Sharks-Leafs game]

Maple Leafs: Dave Bolland (left ankle surgery) and Carter Ashton (hand) are out. Colton Orr (lower body) is questionable.

Season/All-Time series

The Sharks won their first matchup with the Maple Leafs, 4-2 at Air Canada Center on Dec. 3. Overall, San Jose has won six of the last seven meetings (6-1-0).

All-time, the Sharks, who will play their eighth game of 12 straight against the Eastern Conference tonight, are 15-20-0 against Toronto with five ties.

Quoteable

“The power play is going to get going. We know what we have to do, it’s just about doing it and wanting to do it a little bit more.” – Joe Pavelski

Burning question

Should the Sharks make any changes to their power play units due to their 2-for-48 slump over the last 15 games? Leave your answer in the comments section below.