In the Crease: Sharks look to bounce back vs. Hurricanes

Highlights: Sharks thoroughly outplayed in Pittsburgh

In the Crease: Sharks look to bounce back vs. Hurricanes
December 6, 2013, 8:45 am
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The Sharks and Hurricanes have split 28 meetings, with each team winning 14 games. Carolina has won five of the last six. (AP)

Programming note: Sharks-Hurricanes coverage gets underway at 3:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live, only on Comcast SportsNet California

Where they stand
Sharks: 19-4-5, 43 points, 1st Pacific Division, 2nd Western Conference
Hurricanes: 12-12-5, 29 points, 4th Metropolitan Division, 9th Eastern Conference

Vitals
Sharks
Goals per game: 3.36 (3rd)
Goals-against per game: 2.25 (7th)
Power play: 18.5 percent (14th)
Penalty kill: 81.5 percent (16th)

Hurricanes
Goals per game: 2.24 (T – 25th)
Goals-against per game: 2.69 (17th)
Power play: 12.8 percent (27th)
Penalty kill: 80.2 percent (20th)

Probable lines
Sharks
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Tommy Wingels
Marty Havlat – Joe Pavelski – Tyler Kennedy
James Sheppard – Andrew Desjardins – Mike Brown

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

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Hurricanes
Jeff Skinner – Eric Staal – Tuomo Ruutu
Jiri Tlusty – Jordan Staal – Pat Dwyer
Nathan Gerbe – Riley Nash – Elias Lindholm
Drayson Bowman – Manny Malhotra – Radek Dvorak

Justin Faulk – Andrej Sekera
Ryan Murphy – Ron Hainsey
Mike Komisarek – Jay Harrison

Cam Ward
Justin Peters

The latest
Sharks: San Jose’s six-game winning streak was snapped with a decisive 5-1 loss in Pittsburgh last night. The Penguins scored four goals in the first seven-and-a-half minutes of the second period to take over the game, and Antti Niemi was pulled after two periods in suffering the loss. Tomas Hertl’s team-leading 14th goal was all the offense the Sharks could muster, despite 45 shots on goal. The Sharks are 1-1 on a four-game road trip that concludes on Sunday in Minnesota.

Hurricanes: Jeff Skinner’s three goals, including a power play marker and an empty-netter, paced Carolina in a 5-2 win in Nashville last night. Desfenseman Justin Faulk had three points (1g, 2a) and Riley Nash scored the game-winner, while Justin Peters picked up the win in net with 20 saves. The Hurricanes have won four of their last six games (4-2-0), and will be trying to win three in a row for the first time this season.

Keep an eye on…
Sharks: Joe Pavelski. All indications are that Sharks head coach Todd McLellan wasn’t very happy with Pavelski on Thursday, demoting him to the fourth line midway through the loss to the Penguins. Pavelski has 26 points, tying him for third on the team in scoring, but 14 of those have come on the power play. He has one assist in his last three games.

Hurricanes: Jeff Skinner. Along his hat trick on Thursday night, Skinner added three points on Tuesday night against Washington (2g, 1a). He has 17 points in 18 games this season, and is second on the team in scoring. The former Calder Trophy winner leads the Hurricanes with nine goals and a +7 rating.

Injuries/Scratches
Sharks: Raffi Torres (right ACL surgery) and Adam Burish (back surgery) are out.

Hurricanes: Joni Pitkanen (left heel surgery), Anton Khudobin (lower body), Alex Semin (concussion) and Brett Bellemore (concussion) are out. Tim Gleason (lower body), Mike Komisarek (lower body) and Drayson Bowman (bruised ankle) are questionable.

Season/All-Time series
The Sharks and Hurricanes have split 28 meetings, with each team winning 14 games. Carolina has won five of the last six.

Carolina visits San Jose on March 4. It’s the first time since 2001-02 that the teams will meet more than once in a single season.

Quoteable
“I think it’s kind of been coming a little bit. In Toronto, I don’t think we played very well. It led into tonight, but we’ve got an opportunity to go into Carolina tomorrow and play.”Logan Couture, after the 5-1 loss in Pittsburgh last night

Burning question
Who should start in goal for the Sharks tonight, and why?

Leave your answer in the comments section below.