In the Crease: Sharks host lowly Islanders

In the Crease: Sharks host lowly Islanders
December 10, 2013, 10:30 am
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All-time, the Sharks are 14-11-3-1 against the Islanders, including an 11-3-1-1 mark in the last 16. (USATSI)

Programming note 
Sharks-Islanders coverage gets underway at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live, only on Comcast SportsNet California
Where they stand
Sharks: 19-6-5, 43 points, 2nd Pacific Division, 3rd Western Conference
Islanders: 8-18-5, 21 points, 8th Metropolitan Division, 15th Eastern Conference
Goals per game: 3.27 (3rd)
Goals-against per game: 2.37 (10th)
Power play: 17.6 percent (17th)
Penalty kill: 82.1 percent (16th)
Goals per game: 2.39 (22nd)
Goals-against per game: 3.45 (30th)
Power play: 16.2 percent (20th) 
Penalty kill: 71.1 percent (30th)
Probable lines
Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Joe Pavelski

Matt Nieto - Freddie Hamilton - Tommy Wingels
James Sheppard - Andrew Desjardins - Tyler Kennedy
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Brad Stuart - Dan Boyle
Matt Irwin - Jason Demers
Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock
Thomas Vanek – John Tavares – Kyle Okposo
Brock Nelson – Frans Nielsen – Josh Bailey
Michael Grabner – Peter Regin – Cal Clutterbuck
Matt Martin – Casey Cizikas – Colin McDonald
Andrew MacDonald – Thomas Hickey
Calvin de Haan – Travis Hamonic
Aaron Ness – Matt Carkner
Anders Nilsson
Kevin Poulin
The latest
Sharks: Despite outshooting the Wild 38-13, San Jose lost in Minnesota on Sunday, 3-1. Patrick Marleau scored the only goal for the Sharks, late in the third period with goalie Antti Niemi pulled for an extra attacker. The Sharks ended a four-game road trip with a 1-3 mark, and have lost their last three games, all in regulation. 
Islanders: New York enters tonight’s game as the second-worst team in the league, having lost its last 10 games (0-8-2). On Monday, The Ducks pulled away late in the second period in securing a 5-2 win in Anaheim. John Tavares and Thomas Vanek each had a goal and assist in the loss. Anders Nilsson allowed five goals on 31 shots.
Keep an eye on…
Sharks: Matt Nieto. The 20-year-old rookie returned from a cup of coffee in the minors, and had a game-high six shots on net in the loss to Minnesota on Sunday. The Sharks are desperate lately for a more balanced offensive attack, and Nieto could be able to take advantage of a favorable matchup against the weak Islanders.
Islanders: John Tavares. A Hart Trophy finalist as NHL MVP from a season ago, Tavares is one of the lone bright spots for New York with 34 points (12g, 22a), placing him sixth in the league in scoring. In three career games against the Sharks, the 23-year-old has one goal and two assists.
Sharks: Raffi Torres (right ACL surgery), Adam Burish (back surgery) and Mike Brown (undisclosed) are out. Marty Havlat (undisclosed) is questionable.
Islanders: Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion), Brian Strait (upper body) and Evgeni Nabokov (groin strain) are out.
Season/All-Time series
This is the first of two meetings between the Sharks and Islanders, and the first visit by the Islanders here since Nov. 11, 2010. San Jose visits Nassau Coliseum on March 14.
All-time, the Sharks are 14-11-3-1 against the Islanders, including an 11-3-1-1 mark in the last 16.
“That’s probably been the story for the past week, our power play is just been sub par. Five-on-five we looked sharp, and then we kind of gave them the momentum when we were on the power play. Figure that out. We’ve got to get a little bit sharper and a little bit crisper, and we’ll be fine.” – Joe Thornton, after the 3-1 loss in Minnesota, in which the power play was 0-for-4
Burning question
What should the Sharks do to try and fix their power play?
Leave your answer in the comments section below.