Sharks-Red Wings: What to watch for

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Sharks-Red Wings: What to watch for

PROGRAMMINGALERT: Watch the Sharks take on the Red Wings on Hockey Day in America on NBC at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.

DETROIT The Sharks can achieve two things with a win in Detroit on Sunday afternoon. They can put an end to the Red Wings NHL record 22-game home winning streak, as well as get their longest road trip of the season back on the right track.
Its not hard to figure out which is more important to the players themselves.Were going to approach it like most other games. Obviously, we know whats going on here in Detroit, but we need to get some points on this road trip, Patrick Marleau said. Weve let a couple slip away.

That couple includes losses to two of the weaker teams in the Eastern Conference. The Sharks dropped a 3-2 decision to Carolina on Friday night in Raleigh, following a 6-5 overtime loss to the Lightning the night prior.
Now, theyll enter a building that hasnt seen the home team lose there in more than three months. Detroits last loss at Joe Louis Arena came on Nov. 3 vs. Calgary.

Theyre in your conference. You know theyre an elite team. Theyre in first place overall in the league, so you do pay attention to them, Todd McLellan said. The added awareness is the streak itself.
It would be great to stop their roll and get us going in the right direction, Justin Braun said.
The Sharks are 1-2-1 on their season-long nine-game road trip, which also takes them to Columbus, Toronto, Nashville and Minnesota.
Niemi starting: McLellan wasnt saying, but word in the Sharks locker room after their afternoon skate at Joe Louis Arena was that Antti Niemi will get a chance to rebound from his worst start of the season in Thursdays loss to the Lightning. The Sharks netminder allowed six goals on 25 shots, and has lost four of his last five starts overall (1-3-1).
Its a huge game coming back after the Tampa game, Niemi said.
Hes one of just two goalies to have a regulation win in Detroit, helping the Sharks to a 4-2 victory here on Oct. 28 with 30 saves. Niemi also was in net at HP Pavilion, stopping 40 shots in a 5-2 San Jose win over the Red Wings.
He was asked what he has to do personally to get his game going back in the right direction.
Just see the puck, wait for the puck and stop it. Just be patient, I think thats it, he said. We can make this still a pretty good road trip, so lets go.
Detroit, which beat Nashville on Friday at home, 2-1, will go with backup Joey McDonald. It will be the third time in four games the Sharks face a backup goaltender, as Carolina'a Jason Peters and Washington's Braden Holtby played for their respective teams.

Starter Jimmy Howard has been out since Feb. 2 with a broken index finger, but is available to play.

Changes on D: The Sharks will remain without Douglas Murray. The burly blueliner took a puck to the throat early in the Lightning game and will miss his second straight contest with a fractured Adams apple, although he is with the team here in Detroit.
Meanwhile, Jason Demers appears ready to go. Demers has missed the last nine games, and 11 of the last 13, with an unspecified lower body injury. McLellan said that its very likely Demers will be available against Detroit.
Demers return could mean that Colin White will come out of the lineup. White has been generally ineffective for the Sharks, especially since the All-Star break, and has been on the ice for six of the nine goals that San Jose has surrendered in its last two losses.
More Moore: Sharks forward Dominic Moore had a successful debut with his new team on Friday, setting up the tying goal by Brent Burns before San Jose eventually surrendered the game-winning goal shortly after. Moore began the night as the third line center between Torrey Mitchell and Jamie McGinn, but McLellan drastically shuffled up his bottom three lines before the game was over.
One thing McLellan mentioned after the game was that he liked Moore and Clowe together, after he separated Clowe and Logan Couture early in the second period. Benn Ferriero was the other winger with Moore and Clowe.
Couture finished the game with Wingels and Jamie McGinn, while Michel Handzus centered Mitchell and Andrew Desjardins.
We didnt have much going, so we decided to start flipping guys around, McLellan said after the loss in Carolina.
Whether or not the coach sticks with that lineup or goes back to his original lines to start Sundays game will be something to monitor.

Sharks' Marleau strengthens his case for Hall of Fame with career night

Sharks' Marleau strengthens his case for Hall of Fame with career night

Whether Sharks all-time leading scorer Patrick Marleau is worthy of the Hockey Hall of Fame is a subject that can be hotly debated in sports bars throughout North America.

Monday’s performance in Colorado gave some major ammo to the side that argues in his favor.

Marleau had one of the greatest single game performances of his 19-year career, scoring four goals – all in the third period – of the Sharks’ 5-2 win over the Avalanche. 

How rare is four goals in a single period? It’s happened just 12 times, the most recent of which was Mario Lemieux on Jan. 26, 1997 at Montreal, according to Elias. Just five months later, a teenage Marleau would be drafted by the Sharks with the second overall pick.

Marleau spoke with NBCSN and CSN analyst Bret Hedican after the game.

“Everything seemed to click there in the third,” he said. “Some really good plays from a lot of different players. Was able to finish them off.”

What seemed to spark Marleau was a line change by coach Pete DeBoer to start the final frame, after the Sharks had managed just four shots in the second period, and 13 through 40 minutes. Marleau was taken off of the Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski line, and put on the left side of the Logan Couture line, with Mikkel Boedker on the other wing.

Boedker’s hard work in getting the puck to the point resulted in Marleau redirecting a hard Marc-Edouard Vlasic pass to the front of the net to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish.

He scored three more from there: a wraparound, a two-on-one with Pavelski, and a breakaway.

Switching lines is not unfamiliar to Marleau, who has played up and down the Sharks lineup this season after spending most of last season as the third line center.

“I play a bunch of different positions. Over the years you get a little experience and you know how to handle those situations,” Marleau said of his versatility. “It was a fun period.”

Vlasic said: “He was everywhere in the first two periods, and all of a sudden he exploded in the third. … He’s fast, he’s skilled. There’s a reason he can score four.”

Marleau’s second goal of the night was the game-winner, and even that was a bit historic. It was his 96th career game-winning goal, and he’s now tied for 10th all-time in that category with Mats Sundin (courtesy Darin Stephens). He is already one of just three players to have a game-winning goal against 29 other teams (Sundin, Brendan Shanahan), after getting one against Philadelphia on Dec. 30.

Four of Marleau’s five career hat tricks have come on the road, including his most recent one, also at Colorado on Nov. 20, 2011. He is just the third Sharks player to record four goals in a game, joining Owen Nolan and Tomas Hertl, and is the first to do it in a single period.

Marleau now sits just three goals from 500 in his career. Reaching that milestone seemed like a tossup to start the year, but now it’s virtually inevitable that he’ll become just the 45th player to reach that lofty mark before the end of the season.

He remains, of course, the Sharks’ all-time leader in games played (1459) and points (1059).

It all adds up to a few extra strides towards that hockey cathedral in downtown Toronto.

Instant Replay: Marleau's first four-goal game powers Sharks past Avs

Instant Replay: Marleau's first four-goal game powers Sharks past Avs

BOX SCORE

In five consecutive periods against Colorado, the Sharks’ “captains line” of Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau had done next to nothing.

But a third period line change sparked one of them. Big time.

After getting bumped to the second line, Marleau scored a career-high four goals, all in the third period, leading the Sharks to a 5-2 win at Pepsi Center on Colorado on Monday.

On the first, Marleau was left alone in front of the net and redirected a Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot-pass from the point at 2:53 of the final frame. That gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead.

Marleau’s second of the night came just three minutes and four seconds later. He faked to the net, but quickly shifted behind the cage and tucked it inside the post on his backhand before goalie Spencer Martin could seal it off.

The 19-year-veteran completed the hat trick at 10:35, stepping out of the penalty box and finishing off a two-on-one with Pavelski to push the Sharks’ lead to 4-1.

A goal by Colorado’s Nikita Zadorov brought the Avalanche back to within 4-2, but Marleau’s breakaway goal at 16:23, going from his forehand to his backhand, capped the scoring.

Marleau’s most recent hat trick also came in Colorado on Nov. 20, 2011. It was the fifth of his career, four of which have come on the road, as he upped his career total to 497. 

Only two Sharks have ever recorded four goals in a game – Owen Nolan on Dec. 19, 1995, and Tomas Hertl on Oct. 8, 2013.

The Sharks won a season-high fifth in a row, while Colorado dropped its sixth straight.

Brent Burns’ team-leading 20th goal opened the scoring. After David Schlemko rimmed it around the wall behind the Colorado net, Burns gathered it in and quickly fired it towards the goal from a sharp angle. Martin wasn’t able to stop it with one minute to go in the first period.

Burns continues to lead all NHL defensemen in scoring, and has 13 points in his last nine games (5g, 8a).

Colorado got the equalizer in the second period, when Jarome Iginla buried a seam pass from Mikhail Grigorenko at 10:02 on an Avalanche power play.

There were just eight shots in the second period – four per team – and shots were just 13 apiece at the second intermission.

The Sharks beat Colorado at home on Saturday, 3-2, in the only other meeting between the teams this season.

Special teams:
The Sharks finished 0-for-4 on the power play, including a long five-on-three in the third period. They are just 9-for-76 on the road this season (11.8 percent).

Colorado went 1-for-4.

In goal:
Jones improved to 6-1-0 in his last seven starts, with 26 saves.

Martin, who made his NHL debut on Saturday in San Jose, fell to 0-1-1 in his career with five goals allowed on 24 shots.

Lineup:
The Sharks lost Joonas Donskoi in the first period. He was hammered along the wall by Colorado’s Andreas Martinsen, and seemed to be favoring his right arm as he left the ice. Donskoi missed three games earlier this month with an upper body injury.

Timo Meier made his return to the lineup after missing a pair of games with an upper body injury. He started on the fourth line with Tommy Wingels and Melker Karlsson, while Ryan Carpenter – who had points in each of his last two games – was scratched.

Colorado was without center and second-leading scorer Matt Duchene with a reported flu. The Avalanche were forced to play with just 17 skaters.

Up next:
San Jose makes its first of two visits to Winnipeg on Tuesday night in yet another back-to-back situation. The Sharks, who skated past the Jets 5-2 on Jan. 16 at SAP Center, are 5-3 in the second game when playing on consecutive nights.

Edmonton visits the Sharks on Thursday in their final game before the All-Star break.