In the Crease: Sharks, Jets meet for third and final time

In the Crease: Sharks, Jets meet for third and final time
March 27, 2014, 9:45 am
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Joe Pavelski (second from left) leads the Sharks with 37 goals this season. (AP)

Programming note 
Sharks-Jets coverage gets underway on Comcast SportsNet California at 7 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live

Where they stand
Sharks: 47-18-9, 103 points, 2nd Pacific Division, 2nd Western Conference
Jets: 32-32-9, 73 points, 7th Central Division, 12th Western Conference

Playoff watch

The Sharks are two points ahead of Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division. The Ducks have two games in hand and own the tiebreaker of more regulation/overtime wins (45-37). Anaheim is idle tonight, and visits Edmonton on Friday.

If the playoffs started today, the Sharks would host the Minnesota Wild.

The latest

Sharks: The Sharks scored five unanswered goals en route to a 5-2 win in Edmonton on Wednesday. Joe Pavelski led the way offensively, with his third hat trick of the season and one assist. San Jose’s power play struck for three goals, after not getting more than one in a game since Dec. 31, and Antti Niemi picked up his league-leading 36th win with 28 saves. The Sharks visit Colorado on Saturday afternoon (Noon PST).

[RELATED: Pavelski again comes through when Sharks need him most]

Jets: The Jets have won just two of their last 11 games (2-6-3), including at Dallas three days ago, 2-1. Bryan Little scored on the power play, his second goal in as many games. Winnipeg is playing the second of a five-game road trip, with visits to Los Angeles, Anaheim and Phoenix on the horizon.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Brad Stuart. The 34-year-old defenseman may finally be healthy this season, and has averaged 19 minutes in his last two games since returning from an upper body injury. Stuart, who wasn’t able to properly train over the summer and missed all of training camp, said his most recent injury could have been a “blessing in disguise,” and could be a boost to the blue line down the stretch.

Jets: Dustin Byfuglien. The big forward is third on the Jets with 52 points (19g, 33a), but owns a team-worst -18 rating. The former Blackhawk is scoreless in his last three games, though, after getting two goals and an assist against Dallas on March 16. Byfuglien has five goals in 14 career games against the Sharks.

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 2.93 (7th)
Goals-against per game: 2.30 (4th)
Power play: 16.8 percent (20th)
Penalty kill: 85.1 percent (5th)

Jets
Goals per game: 2.68 (17th)
Goals-against per game: 2.84 (21st)
Power play: 14.9 percent (27th)
Penalty kill: 84.1 percent (8th)

Probable lines

Sharks
Joe Pavelski – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Matt Nieto – Patrick Marleau – Tyler Kennedy
Marty Havlat – James Sheppard – Tommy Wingels
Freddie Hamilton – Andrew Desjardins – Mike Brown

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

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Jets
Andrew Ladd – Bryan Little – Michael Frolik
Dustin Byfuglien – Olli Jokinen – Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane – Eric O’Dell – Matt Halischuk
Eric Tangradi – Jim Slater – Anthony Peluso

Mark Stuart – Jacob Trouba
Tobias Enstrom – Keaton Ellerby
Adam Pardy – Paul Postma

Al Montoya
Michael Hutchinson

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee surgery), Raffi Torres (soreness/right knee surgery) and Adam Burish (left hand) are out. Logan Couture (lower body) is questionable.

[RELATED: Burish could be back for playoffs]

Jets: Grant Clitsome (back), James Wright (sprained ankle), Mark Scheifele (MCL), John Albert (upper body), Chris Thorburn (broken foot) and Ondrej Pavalec (lower body) are out. Blake Wheeler (lower body) is probable.

Season/All-Time series

The Sharks lost in Winnipeg, 5-4 on Nov. 10 in a shootout, but beat the Jets on Jan. 23 at home, 1-0. Alex Stalock made 20 saves in recording his second career NHL shutout.

San Jose is 11-1-2 against the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise, including two ties.

Quoteable

“What can you say? He’s been our go-to guy as far as finishing goes. Got to go back and play center a little bit, bumped up on the line, made the power play go. Very smart player that gets to the right spots, and has smart people around him that get him the puck.” – Todd McLellan, on Joe Pavelski

Burning question

How much of a loss is Adam Burish? Leave your answer in the comments section below.