Surging Sharks return home to face Jets
Now that the San Jose Sharks appear to have conquered their demons on the road, they’ll try to continue that momentum at home against one of the Western Conference’s best teams.
The Sharks go for their fifth straight win at SAP Center and sixth in a row overall when they meet the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.
During the first two-plus months of the season, San Jose (19-11-5) failed to string together consecutive wins away from home, but that has changed recently. After beating the Arizona Coyotes on Dec. 8, the Sharks scored seven goals to rout the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday before blanking the Minnesota Wild 4-0 on Tuesday.
“I thought from a team standpoint it was probably one of our most solid games from start to finish,” Martin Jones told the league’s official website after collecting his first shutout of the season and 20th of his career.
Jones has yielded just two goals while winning each of his last two home starts against Winnipeg and is 9-2-2 in northern California in 2018-19.
Coach Peter DeBoer has seen his team make considerable strides after beginning the season with four losses in six games.
“I think everybody’s better than early in the season … We’re all better in here now,” he told the league’s official website.
San Jose is 11-3-2 at home with a plus-19 goal differential heading into the opener of a four-game homestand. The Sharks are also looking to avoid losing three straight to the Jets’ franchise for the first time.
With a game in hand, Winnipeg (22-10-2) is tied with the Calgary Flames and Nashville Predators for the conference’s top spot. After winning five in a row — including three straight in overtime — the Jets opened a West Coast swing with a 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.
“We’ve got to learn from it,” Connor Hellebuyck said after making 27 saves in the loss. “We played well, but there’s more to give.”
Hellebuyck, who is two wins shy of 100 for his career, has never played in San Jose. Backup Laurent Brossoit is 4-0-0 on the road and 7-0-1 overall this season.
The hottest player right now for Winnipeg is not named Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler or Patrik Laine. Matthieu Perreault has goals in a career-best five straight games after helping the Jets avoid being blanked in southern California.
“It’s been fun, not that I play any different, really,” said Perreault, who scored Winnipeg’s last visit to San Jose in January. “My game never really changed. I play the same way night in, night out.”
While Perreault is red-hot, he is tied for ninth on the team with 15 points (eight goals, seven assists). Scheifele leads with 46 points, Wheeler is tops with 39 assists and Laine has 23 goals.
San Jose captain Joe Pavelski has 21 goals, leaving him one shy of matching his total in 82 games last season. He has three goals and three assists in a four-game points streak against the Jets.
The Sharks’ Logan Couture scored twice against the Wild, and he will to try to notch his fourth consecutive multipoint game. Couture has four goals in a three-game run against Winnipeg.