In the Crease: Sharks return home against slumping 'Canes

McLellan on Burns: 'Just like everybody else we've got to hold him accountable'

In the Crease: Sharks return home against slumping 'Canes
March 4, 2014, 9:45 am
Share This Post

In his last 13 games, San Jose Sharks rookie forward Matt Nieto has five goals and one assist. (USATSI)

Programming note: Sharks-Hurricanes coverage gets underway at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California

Where they stand
Sharks: 39-17-6, 84 points, 2nd Pacific Division, 4th Western Conference
Hurricanes: 26-26-9, 61 points, 6th Metropolitan Division, 13th Eastern Conference

[RELATED: Sharks mailbag: Will they make a trade?]

The latest

Sharks: The Sharks return home for the first time after the Olympic break to begin a four-game homestand. They beat New Jersey on Sunday, 4-2, in securing two wins on a three-game road trip (2-1-0). Goals from Matt Nieto and Patrick Marleau in the third period broke a 2-2 tie, and Alex Stalock recorded his 10th win with 21 saves. The Sharks will play their fourth of 12 straight games against Eastern Conference teams tonight.

Hurricanes: Carolina has lost its last five games all in regulation, including defeats in Buffalo, Dallas, Los Angeles and Anaheim coming out of the break. The Ducks scored five straight goals on Sunday before the Hurricanes tallied the final three to make it a respectable 5-3 final at Honda Center. Their five-game road trip, a nightmare so far, concludes tonight.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Matt Nieto. The Sharks rookie was scratched on Friday in Buffalo but returned to the lineup to score the game-winning goal against the Devils on Sunday, playing on a line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Brent Burns has now gone 19 straight games without a goal, so perhaps Nieto can fill the void left by Burns’ recent vanishing act. In his last 13 games, Nieto has five goals and one assist.

[RELATED: Nieto, line changes spur Sharks to win over Devils]

Hurricanes: Andrej Sekera. Carolina’s offensive-minded defenseman has four points in his last four games (2g, 2a) and 12 points in his last 13. He’s already reached a career high with 36 points this season, and 11 goals ties the 27-year-old for sixth in the NHL in that category among blueliners.

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 2.89 (7th)
Goals-against per game: 2.36 (T - 5th)
Power play: 17.0 percent (19th)
Penalty kill: 84.2 percent (8th)

Hurricanes
Goals per game: 2.46 (21st)
Goals-against per game: 2.79 (18th)
Power play: 13.0 percent (29th)
Penalty kill: 81.2 percent (19th)

Probable lines

Sharks
Matt Nieto – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Tommy Wingels
Raffi Torres – James Sheppard – Brent Burns

Tyler Kennedy – Andrew Desjardins – Marty Havlat

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


Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

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

Mike Komisarek – Andrej Sekera
John-Michael Liles – Jay Harrison
Brett Bellemore – Ron Hainsey

Cam Ward
Anton Khudobin

Injuries/Scratches

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

Hurricanes: Joni Pitkanen (left heel surgery) and Justin Faulk (upper body) are out.

Season/All-Time series

The Hurricanes handed Alex Stalock and the Sharks a 5-3 loss on Dec. 6 in Raleigh. San Jose led 2-0, but surrendered four goals in the third period.

All-time, the Sharks are 14-14-1 against the Hartford/Carolina franchise. This is the first time since 2001-02 they are meeting more than once in a single season.

Quoteable

“Every opportunity I get I have to take advantage of it. It doesn’t matter who I play with, every game I play I just have to try to have an impact.” – Matt Nieto

Burning question

If the Sharks don’t make any moves before the trade deadline, how confident are you that they could make a deep run in the playoffs?