Devils-Sharks Preview

The San Jose Sharks have been plagued by poor starts during a rough home stretch.

They’ll try to avoid another early deficit Monday night when they host the New Jersey Devils, who are still without Jaromir Jagr.

The Sharks (24-16-6) have dropped four of five at home and fallen behind in the first period of all four losses, including 2-0 deficits at the first intermission in the last two.

They scored three straight second-period goals against Calgary on Thursday but gave up the tying goal shortly thereafter, then allowed Sean Monahan to score 24 seconds into overtime in a 4-3 loss.

"There are nights where we don’t execute or are sloppy sometimes it’s only half a team, tonight was a full team," coach Todd McLellan said. "We’re fortunate to have a point. We need to realize that. That start itself was unacceptable."

San Jose was outshot 11-4 in the first period but held an 18-12 advantage the rest of the way. The Sharks have posted a minus-8 first-period goal differential during a 5-5-2 stretch.

"These are games that we can’t spot the other team two goals and expect to win," forward Patrick Marleau told the team’s official website after notching two assists.

The Devils (16-22-8) have been outscored 27-14 during a 1-6-1 road stretch. They’re among the top teams in the league in the first period with a plus-10 scoring differential but are a minus-35 over the second and third.

Martin Havlat scored in the first period at Anaheim on Friday but New Jersey was outshot 40-15 in a 5-1 loss, its second-worst shot disparity of the season. The Devils, who recorded one second-period shot, have been outshot 140-72 while going 1-2-1 in their last four.

They rank near the bottom of the league with a minus-5.6 shot differential.

"I think we need to control the puck a little bit more," center Tim Sestito said. "Getting out of our end clean, getting pucks in. Getting pucks into places where we can get them back, whether it’s skating it in or getting dumps away from their goalie in places where we can be first on it."

Jagr, tops on the Devils with 25 points, and Tuomo Ruutu missed their second straight games with the flu. Neither are expected to return until New Jersey begins a five-game homestand Wednesday.

The Devils switched to Keith Kinkaid in net following the first period after Cory Schneider was hit high with a hard shot. Kinkaid gave up four goals on 25 shots.

Schneider is expected to be back in net for this game. He owns a 3.55 goals-against average against the Sharks and has lost five straight starts in the series, the most recent a 4-2 defeat Oct. 18 that was New Jersey’s fourth straight to San Jose.

"I had (Saturday) off, felt OK (Sunday) and should be good to go," Schneider said. "So, it’s more just I got my bell rung a bit and they wanted to be careful. So, fortunately, it wasn’t any more than that."

Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski each had a goal and two assists in that contest. Pavelski has two goals and six assists in his last five meetings.

Antti Niemi stopped 35 shots to give him a 4-1-0 mark and 1.76 GAA in five career starts against the Devils, but Alex Stalock is reportedly likely to be in net Monday. Niemi has gone 3-3-1 with a 3.49 GAA in his last seven starts.

Joe Thornton has 19 goals and 20 assists in his last 26 games against New Jersey.