Road-rampaging Sharks land in Carolina
RALEIGH, N.C. — The San Jose Sharks are aiming to repeat their epic November road trip from a year ago.
The soon-to-be Western Conference champions reeled off six consecutive road wins last season over a nine-day period after a mediocre start.
Now, San Jose is 3-0-0 on its current six-game Eastern Conference swing, having outscored Washington, Florida and Tampa Bay — three pretty good teams — by a combined 10-3 heading into a game at Carolina on Tuesday night as part of another six-game road trip.
Sharks goalie Martin Jones has a .959 save percentage during the road trip, raising his season save percentage to .913. He finished at .918 last season.
“They are one of the better teams in the league overall, not just in the West,” Carolina coach Bill Peters said. “It looks liked their same timing from a year ago, getting on a roll. They are a good veteran team and are good on the back end. (Defenseman) Brent Burns is a special player back there with the fact that he's up the ice a lot and is unpredictable and can shoot it, so we have to know where he is on the ice. They have a nice, deep team.”
Carolina, last in the Metropolitan Division and in the middle of a five-game homestand, has had surprising success against the Sharks, going 8-3 over the past 11 meetings despite missing the playoffs the last seven seasons.
“They are a good team and have had success in the past, but I don't know if you get extra motivated to play them,” said Carolina's leading scorer, Jeff Skinner. “You should be motivated anyway, but we're all aware how good a team they are, so you have to come in knowing it's a good opportunity to rise to the challenge.”
Peters didn't rule out the return of two-time All-Star defenseman Justin Faulk, although it is more likely Faulk could return Friday against the red-hot Montreal Canadiens.
“He's close; he was able to do everything in practice but the battles,” Peters said of his star defenseman, who has missed two games with an upper-body injury.
Peters juggled his lines Saturday night in a 5-1 win against the Capitals after the Hurricanes had gotten off to another slow start to the season. The new line of Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen and Sebatian Aho picked up 11 points vs. Washington.
“We're trying to find the right spot for a lot of different guys,” Peters said.
Defenseman Matt Tennyson made his Carolina debut against Washington, and he will be in action again Tuesday against his former team.
“He deserves the opportunity to stay in the lineup,” Peter said. “The whole trick is no matter how many minutes you get is to be productive on those minutes, and he managed the puck well the other night. He looked like he was real composed out there.”
On Monday, the Hurricanes terminated the contract of Jakub Nakladal. The 28-year-old defenseman was signed by Carolina as a free agent Oct. 9. He appeared in three games and did not register a point and was minus-4, averaging 14:30 of ice time.