Sharks-Maple Leafs Preview
After snapping their longest losing streak of the season, the San Jose Sharks can focus on maintaining their dominance of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
However, the Sharks might need to do so without one of their top forwards Thursday night in Toronto.
Joe Pavelski had a goal with an assist and San Jose (15-14-1) made the most of its 18 shots to snap an 0-5-1 skid with Tuesday's 3-1 victory at Montreal.
''It took a real team effort from everyone,” said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer, whose team opened a five-game trip by improving to 11-5-1 on the road.
Three nights removed from a 2-0 loss to Minnesota, the Sharks scored the initial goal for the first time in seven games.
“Getting the first goal for us was important,” DeBoer added.
Looking to win consecutive contests for the first time since a six-game run from Nov. 13-22, the Sharks hope for that same early intensity especially if Tomas Hertl is unable to play. Hertl, who has 13 points, skated in pregame with top-liners Joe Thornton and Pavelski, but sat with a lower-body injury.
“(Hertl) had tweaked something last game,” DeBoer said. “We thought he was going to be fine, and it kind of flared up after morning skate.”
Joining Pavelski and Thornton, Dainius Zubrus scored for the first time in nine games since signing with the Sharks on Nov. 24.
“Some of those games that we lost, I thought we still created enough chances to score goals, but none were going in,” Zubrus said.
“It's not easy to stay positive when you're losing like that, but I believe in our game, I believe in our guys and the system. I think if we play like this, there will be more wins to come.”
Whether it's Zubrus or Hertl on the top line, San Jose should feel confident while trying for a 10th win in the last 11 games against Toronto. The Sharks have outscored the Maple Leafs 19-7 during a five-game winning streak.
Pavelski has five goals and four assists while winning all eight games he's played against Toronto.
Following back-to-back victories, the Maple Leafs (10-13-6) try to bounce back from falling 5-4 in overtime to Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
''Any time you get four, you have more than enough to win,'' said Toronto coach Mike Babcock, whose team has recorded 10 non-shootout goals in the last three games. ''Lots of nights we haven't had run support. We had run support (Tuesday), we were unable to get it done.''
Perhaps because Jonathan Bernier struggled in making 22 saves in his return from an AHL conditioning assignment – that followed a lower-body injury – to make his first NHL appearance since Nov. 28. Bernier, 0-8-2 with a 3.45 goals-against average, could give way to rookie Garret Sparks in this contest with James Reimer still dealing with a groin injury.
Sparks is 3-1-0 with a 2.21 GAA.
Teammate James van Riemsdyk has a goal in two straight games after failing to score in the previous eight contests. He doesn't have any goals in eight games against the Sharks.
- Dainius Zubrus
- Garret Sparks
- James Reimer
- Joe Pavelski
- Joe Thornton
- Jonathan Bernier
- San Jose Sharks
- Tomas Hertl
- Toronto Maple Leafs