In the Crease: Sharks visit Flames searching for offense

In the Crease: Sharks visit Flames searching for offense
January 30, 2014, 10:15 am
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The Sharks have won all three games of the season series, including one in a shootout. (USATSI)

INSIDE THE MATCHUP

- The Sharks have won four consecutive games against the Flames, with each of the last two meetings being decided by a 3-2 margin.

- The Flames have won three consecutive games for the first time this season, with the last two being decided by a 5-4 margin.

-The Sharks, who have been shut out in back-to-back games for the fifth time in franchise history, have never been shut out in three consecutive games.

- The Flames, who have been outscored by a Western Conference-high 21 goals in the first period this season (49-28), have scored a first-period goal in four consecutive games.

- Mikael Backlund has scored six goals over his last nine games, after scoring just six goals over his previous 49 games.

- Joe Pavelski, who is working on a six-game point streak against the Flames, has scored multiple goals in two of his last three games against Calgary.

Programming note: Sharks-Flames coverage gets underway at 5:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live, on Comcast SportsNet California

Where they stand
Sharks: 34-14-6, 74 points, 2nd Pacific Division, 4th Western Conference
Flames: 19-27-7, 45 points, 6th Pacific Division, 13th Western Conference

The latest

Sharks: The Sharks were shut out for the second straight game on Wednesday in Edmonton, despite a franchise-record 59 shots on goal. Ben Scrivens stopped them all, setting a new NHL record for most saves in a shutout in a regular season game. San Jose has not scored since Joe Thornton’s overtime marker against Minnesota on Jan. 25, getting blanked by Los Angeles on Monday, and has now gone 120 minutes without a goal. After tonight, the Sharks return home for the final four games before the Olympic break.

Flames: Calgary increased its winning streak to a season-high three games on Tuesday, beating the Blackhawks in overtime, 5-4. Mikael Backlund scored twice, and TJ Brodie deposited the game-winner in the extra session. All three wins have come at home, including victories over Phoenix and Nashville, as Calgary is playing the fourth of a season-long five-game homestand.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Marty Havlat. Havlat was surprisingly effective in the 3-0 loss to Edmonton on Wednesday, returning after a 17-game absence, six of which he was a healthy scratch. He set up Tommy Wingels in the second period with a slick feed from behind the net, and Wingels hit the crossbar while the game was still just 1-0. Havlat finished with four shots on goal and a -1 rating.

Flames: Mikael Backlund. The Flames' top line center has three goals in his last two games, and is second on the team in scoring with 23 points (11g, 12a). He's coming off of his first multiple-goal game of the season on Tuesday against the Blackhawks, played a career-high 27:07 on Jan. 18, and has two goals and four assists in 14 career games against San Jose.

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 2.91 (6th)
Goals-against per game: 2.30 (4th)
Power play: 18.3 percent (17th)
Penalty kill: 83.6 percent (8th)

Flames
Goals per game: 2.26 (29th)
Goals-against per game: 3.13 (28th)
Power play: 14.8 percent (25th)
Penalty kill: 80.4 percent (18th)

Probable lines

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

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

Alex Stalock (confirmed starter)
Antti Niemi

Flames
Jiri Hudler – Mikael Backlund – Lee Stempniak
Joe Colbourne – Sean Monahan – TJ Galiardi
Lance Bouma – Matt Stajan – David Jones
Kevin Westgarth – Ben Street – Brian McGrattan

T.J. Brodie – Mark Giordano
Kris Russell – Chris Butler
Ladislav Smid – Dennis Wideman

Karri Ramo
Reto Berra

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee surgery), Raffi Torres (right knee surgery), Adam Burish (back surgery), and Logan Couture (right hand) are out. Tyler Kennedy (undisclosed) is questionable.

Flames: Curtis Glencross (high ankle sprain) and Mike Cammalleri (concussion) are out.

Season/All-Time series

The Sharks have won all three games of the season series, including one in overtime. Joe Pavelski leads all scorers with four goals and three assists in the three games. The Sharks return to the Saddledome on March 24.

The Sharks are 43-46-8 with four ties all-time against Calgary. San Jose has won four in a row over the Flames.

Quoteable

“We had enough shots. A couple posts. Good, quality shots. Some we missed hitting our spots, and some he made some good saves." – Patrick Marleau, after the 3-0 loss in Edmonton on Wednesday

Burning question

What do the Sharks need to do to break out of their offensive slump? Leave your answer in the comments section below.