Preview: Lightning return home, aim to strike down visiting Sharks

TV: FOX Sports Sun

Time: Pregame coverage begins at 6 p.m.


TAMPA, Fla. — After a slow start, the San Jose Sharks have found their groove.

After a fast start, the Tampa Bay Lightning have hit their first rough patch of the season.

The Sharks enter Saturday’s game at Tampa as winners of three consecutive games and unbeaten in regulation in the past six (4-0-2). And since Oct. 28, San Jose is 10-3-2 after Friday’s victory at Florida.

Tampa Bay Lightning on FOX Sports Sun

Now, the Sharks look to get back goaltender Martin Jones, who missed the past two games with an undisclosed injury. Jones dressed as the backup to Aaron Dell on Friday.

The Sharks have allowed fewer than two goals in four of the past five games.

But San Jose will continue to be without Joonas Donskoi, who remains out with an undisclosed “mid-to-lower body” injury.

Donskoi has seven goals and 19 points in 23 games.

“You’re disappointed for him for him because he’s just rolling,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told the Mercury News. “He’s had some injuries over the last two years that have derailed him, so you don’t want him to get off the track he was on.”

Tampa Bay started the season 15-2-2 and was the highest scoring team in the league.

But since a 6-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Nov. 16, Tampa Bay has just two wins in the past six games and has been held to three or fewer goals in six games and two or fewer in four consecutive games.

“Things are not going to go exactly how you want them to for 82 games, so it’s no surprise,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. “You are going to go through stuff like this, it happens every year, individually and as a team. The good teams just find a way to limit those and we’ll look to get back on track here, but it’s not easy.”

The Lightning are also dealing with the injury bug for the first time this year as well.

Defenseman Jake Dotchin will miss his fifth consecutive game with an undisclosed lower body injury suffered Nov. 18.

During Friday’s practice, defenseman Braydon Coburn, who took a knee-on-knee hit from Boston’s David Backes on Wednesday, and forward Ryan Callahan were absent for “maintenance” purposes. Center Cedric Paquette will miss Saturday’s game serving a one-game suspension for a boarding call against Boston’s Torey Krug.

With some uncertainty about who might be available, the Lightning called up winger Cory Conacher from Syracuse of the American Hockey League.

“We’ll have to see, there is definitely some maintenance issues going on,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “Hopefully, it’s not long term. We’ve been pretty blessed without going through (injuries) the first 20 games or so, but it’s going to happen, it happens to every team and you just try to manage it and hopefully it doesn’t keep compounding.

“We just can’t let it affect the way we play, we have to keep plugging forward.”