In the Crease: Sharks, Wild meet again

In the Crease: Sharks, Wild meet again
December 12, 2013, 9:45 am
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Minnesota beat Tomas Hertl and the Sharks 3-1 in St. Paul on Sunday. (AP)

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

Where they stand
Sharks: 19-6-6, 44 points, 3rd Pacific Division, 4th Western Conference
Wild: 18-10-5, 41 points, 3rd Central Division, 7th Western Conference

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 3.23 (3rd)
Goals-against per game: 2.36 (8th)
Power play: 17.8 percent (17th)
Penalty kill: 82.4 percent (16th)

Wild
Goals per game: 2.27 (26th)
Goals-against per game: 2.21 (4th)
Power play: 21.2 percent (8th)
Penalty kill: 79.2 percent (23rd)

Probable lines
Sharks
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tyler Kennedy
Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns


Matt Nieto – Joe Pavelski – Tommy Wingels

Freddie Hamilton - Andrew Desjardins - Marty Havlat




Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun


Matt Irwin – Dan Boyle


Brad Stuart – Jason Demers



Antti Niemi
 (confirmed starter)

Alex Stalock

Wild
Zach Parise – Mikko Koivu – Jason Pominville
Nino Niederreiter – Charlie Coyle – Jason Zucker
Matt Cooke – Kyle Brodziak – Torrey Mitchell
Justin Fontaine – Zenon Konopka – Dany Heatley

Ryan Suter – Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella – Jared Spurgeon
Keith Ballard – Clayton Stoner

Niklas Backstrom (likely starter)
Josh Harding

The latest
Sharks: The Sharks let a two-goal third period lead slip away against the previously sinking Islanders, losing 3-2 in a shootout. San Jose dropped its fourth straight (0-3-1) while New York ended a 10-game losing streak. Patrick Marleau (power play) and Joe Pavelski scored in the loss, and Antti Niemi made 26 saves. The Sharks conclude a brief two-game homestand tonight, and begin a three-game road trip on Saturday in Nashville.

Wild: Jason Pominville’s third period power play goal was all the offense the Wild could produce in a 2-1 loss in Anaheim last night. Josh Harding took the loss with 29 saves. Anaheim improved to 12-0-2 at home. This is the second of a three-game trip for the Wild, who visit the Avalanche on Saturday.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The Sharks’ shutdown defenseman was on the ice for both Islanders goals on Sunday, and has a minus-4 rating in his last four games. He and partner Justin Braun will almost certainly get a steady dose of Minnesota’s imposing top line, and they will have to be more effective than they have been recently.

Wild: Zach Parise. The Wild’s star forward leads the team with 26 points, and is second with 14 goals, including two against the Sharks on Sunday. He averages more than a point-per-game in his career against San Jose, with 11 points (5g, 6a) in 10 career games.

Injuries/Scratches
Sharks: Raffi Torres (right ACL surgery), Adam Burish (back surgery) and Scott Hannan (upper body) are out. Mike Brown (lower body) is questionable.

Wild: Mikael Granlund (concussion) is out.

Season/All-Time series
This is the second of three meetings. Minnesota, which beat the Sharks 3-1 in St. Paul on Sunday, visits the Sharks again on Jan. 25.

Zach Parise had two goals, including an empty netter, in Sunday’s Wild win. Josh Harding had 37 saves, as the Sharks outshot Minnesota 38-13.

The Sharks are 26-15-2-5 all-time against the Wild. At home, San Jose is 11-1-1 in its last 13 games against Minnesota.

Quoteable
“We’ve just got to start scoring. I’ve had a lot of good looks over the past month and haven’t been able to put them in. It’s adds to frustration to your game, just like the power play does, and hopefully we can turn the corner soon and start scoring.” – Logan Couture

Burning question
Where should Joe Pavelski play – in a top-six role, or as the third line center?

Leave your answer in the comments section below.