In the Crease: Sharks prepare for Nabokov, Isles

In the Crease: Sharks prepare for Nabokov, Isles
March 14, 2014, 9:30 am
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Evgeni Nabokov will oppose the Sharks for the first time in his career on Friday. (USATSI)

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

Where they stand
Sharks: 43-17-7, 93 points, 2nd Pacific Division, 3rd Western Conference
Islanders: 25-33-9, 59 points, 8th Metropolitan Division, 14th Eastern Conference

The latest

Sharks: Patrick Marleau’s two goals and Alex Stalock’s 35 saves helped the Sharks to a 4-3 shootout win in Columbus on Thursday night. San Jose moved into a tie with Anaheim at the top of the Pacific Division with 93 points, although the Ducks have a game in hand. The Sharks are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games overall, and have won seven consecutive shootouts. A three-game road trip ends Sunday against the Rangers. The Sharks are 4-3 in the second half of a back-to-back this season.

[RELATED: Shootouts playing key role in Sharks' ascension]

Islanders: New York should be well rested, having not playing since beating Vancouver on Monday, 7-4. The Islanders erased a 3-0 deficit with a franchise-record tying seven goals in the third period. That concluded a four-game road trip through Canada (2-1-1), and tonight’s game marks the start of a four-game homestand for Islanders, who remain buried in last place in their division and without superstar John Tavares due to an Olympic knee injury.

[RELATED: NHL standings]

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Patrick Marleau. So much for being tired after the Olympics. Marleau has recorded nine points in the eight games since the NHL season resumed (5g, 4a), including two goals in Thursday's win. One came on the power play, ending a miserable 2-for-58 stretch by the team. Marleau has been the single biggest benefactor of Logan Couture’s return from a hand injury, and has 23 shots on goal in his last five games.

Islanders: Evgeni Nabokov. The former Sharks goaltender is scheduled to make his first-ever start against San Jose, likely opposing Antti Niemi. The 38-year-old has been on and off the injured list this season, and is numbers are decidedly average (12-13-6, 2.93 GAA, .900 SP), but he’ll certainly be pumped to face some of his good friends after missing the game in San Jose in December with a groin injury.

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 2.97 (7th)
Goals-against per game: 2.34 (4th)
Power play: 16.0 percent (23rd)
Penalty kill: 84.4 percent (6th)

Islanders
Goals per game: 2.72 (15th)
Goals-against per game: 3.34 (30th)
Power play: 16.7 percent (20th)
Penalty kill: 77.0 percent (29th)

Probable lines

Sharks
Joe Pavelski – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Matt Nieto
Marty Havlat – James Sheppard – Tommy Wingels
Adam Burish – Andrew Desjardins – Mike Brown

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

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Islanders
Anders Lee – Frans Nielsen – Kyle Okposo
Josh Bailey – Brock Nelson – Cal Clutterbuck
Matt Martin – Ryan Strome – Colin McDonald
Mike Halmo – Casey Cizikas – Johan Sundstrom

Calvin de Haan – Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey – Lubomir Visnovsky
Brian Strait – Matt Donovan

Evgeni Nabokov
Anders Nilsson

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee surgery) and Brad Stuart (upper body) are out. Raffi Torres (right knee) is questionable.

Islanders: John Tavares (left knee surgery) is out. Michael Grabner (concussion) is doubtful. Eric Boulton (bruised hand) is questionable.

Season/All-Time series

The Islanders beat the Sharks on Dec. 10 at SAP Center, 3-2 in a shootout, in what was San Jose’s fourth straight loss. The Sharks outshot New York for the game, 48-28, including an 18-3 edge in the first period.

All-time, the Sharks are 14-11-2 against the Islanders with three ties.

Quoteable

“We’re a loose group.” – Alex Stalock

Burning question

What is your favorite memory of Evgeni Nabokov? Leave your answer in the comments section below.

 

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