In the Crease: Sharks make rare appearance in Florida

Highlights: Sharks pick up shootout win in Washington

In the Crease: Sharks make rare appearance in Florida
January 16, 2014, 10:45 am
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Andrew Desjardins has one goal and four assists in his last 12 games. (USATSI)

Programming note: Sharks-Panthers coverage gets underway at 4:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live, only on Comcast SportsNet California

Where they stand
Sharks: 29-12-6, 64 points, 2nd Pacific Division, 4th Western Conference
Panthers: 18-21-7, 43 points, 7th Atlantic Division, 14th Eastern Conference

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 3.02 (5th)
Goals-against per game: 2.38 (8th)
Power play: 19.0 percent (13th)
Penalty kill: 83.5 percent (10th)

Panthers
Goals per game: 2.24 (28th)
Goals-against per game: 2.96 (22nd)
Power play: 9.8 percent (30th)
Penalty kill: 76.3 percent (29th)

Probable lines

Sharks
Joe Pavelski – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Matt Nieto – Patrick Marleau – Tommy Wingels
Bracken Kearns – Andrew Desjardins – Tyler Kennedy
Eriah Hayes – John McCarthy – Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Jason Demers
Brad Stuart – Justin Braun
Matt Irwin – Dan Boyle

Alex Stalock
Antti Niemi

[RELATED: Niemi key to Sharks shootout success]

Panthers
Tomas Fleischmann – Nick Bjugstad – Scottie Upshall
Sean Bergenheim – Aleksander Barkov – Brad Boyes
Jonathan Huberdeau – Marcel Goc – Tomas Kopecky
Krys Barch – Drew Shore – Jimmy Hayes

Brian Campbell – Tom Gilbert
Erik Gudbranson – Ed Jovanovski
Dmitry Kulikov – Mike Weaver

Tim Thomas
Scott Clemmensen

The latest

Sharks: Tyler Kennedy ended an 18-game streak without a goal in the Sharks’ 2-1 shootout win over Washington on Tuesday. Alex Ovechkin’s second period goal tied the game, but Patrick Marleau’s shootout marker gave San Jose the extra point. The Sharks have won six of their last seven games that have gone to a shootout, and have alternated wins and losses in their last nine games overall (5-4-0).

[RECAP: Sharks start road trip with shootout win]

Panthers: Florida is 4-1-2 in its last seven games, including a 4-2 win over the Islanders on Tuesday. The Panthers built a 4-0 lead on goals from Aleksander Barkov, Drew Shore, Nick Bjugstad and Scottie Upshall to cruise to the win. Tim Thomas made 31 saves. After tonight, seven of Florida’s next eight games are on the road.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Andrew Desjardins. Desjardins’ line with Tyler Kennedy and Bracken Kearns was solid in Washington, and the Sharks will need them to keep up their energetic play while Logan Couture and others remain out. Desjardins has one goal and four assists in his last 12 games, and his 15:09 of ice time against the Capitals was his third highest total of the season.

Panthers: Aleksander Barkov. The second overall pick in the 2013 draft, the 18-year-old Finland native has 13 points in his last 15 games (4g, 9a) with a +6 rating. Barkov is the team’s leading point producer with 23, and is tied for sixth in the league in rookie scoring.

Injuries/Scratches

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

Panthers: Jesse Winchester (hand), Dylan Olsen (lower body) and Alex Petrovic (upper body) are out.

Season/All-Time series

The Panthers bring a four-game winning streak against the Sharks into tonight’s game, although they have not met since Dec. 3, 2011, a 5-3 Florida win.

This is the 25th all-time meeting between the teams. The Sharks have nine wins, the Panthers eight, and they tied seven times.

The teams meet again on March 18 at SAP Center.

Quoteable

“It was important for us to start the trip off the right way. … Pretty good teams, that played pretty well.” – Todd McLellan, after the Sharks’ 2-1 shootout win over Washington

Burning question

Considering the Ducks' dominance, Is the race for the Pacific Division over? Leave your answer in the comments section below.