Preview: Wild at Sharks
Timo Meier, though, is the club’s top player early this season.
The high-scoring winger looks to help San Jose snap a six-game losing streak to the surging Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night at SAP Center.
Meier is enjoying the finest stretch of this three-year career with eight goals in his last seven games. His best effort of 2018-19 may have come Saturday when he banged home his second goal of the game 13 seconds into overtime to lift the Sharks to a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
“He’s been great. Thankfully, he’s off to the start he’s off to,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said.
With his second game-winning goal of the campaign, Meier (11 goals) also broke franchise icon Patrick Marleau’s record for most goals by a Sharks player through the first 14 games of a season.
Meier, who had 21 tallies last season, admitted the net is looking “bigger than before, a little bit,” but that he couldn’t have achieved the record without his linemates.
“Obviously, playing with Couture and (winger Tomas) Hertl gives me some confidence, too,” Meier said.
Now, the test will be if Meier can stay hot with a new linemate. The San Jose Mercury News reported Monday that Hertl (five goals, nine assists) is day to day with a head injury suffered after a collision with Flyers defenseman Christian Folin.
“It’s part of what we deal with. You know that that stuff’s right around the corner,” DeBoer said. “There’s no sense in wasting energy being frustrated by it. You’ve got to test your depth and it’s an opportunity for somebody else.”
Kevin Labanc, who had two assists against Philadelphia and has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) this season, is expected to step into Hertl’s spot, according to the Mercury News.
Couture has 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in a career-best nine-game points streak, but only two assists in his last six home games versus Minnesota. Couture, Meier and Burns are tied for the team lead with 16 points each.
San Jose (7-4-3) has been outscored 24-15 during an 0-4-2 slide versus the Wild, and is looking for its first home win over Minnesota (8-3-2) since Jan. 23, 2016.
The Wild are in the middle of an oddly scheduled season-high seven-game road trip that started in Western Canada before the club returned to the Midwest for one contest. Minnesota earned its seventh win in eight games by rolling past the St. Louis Blues, 5-1, on Saturday night.
“I hope we’re not peaking. It’s Game 13,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau told the team’s official website.
After playing all three California teams, Minnesota returns to St. Louis before facing the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals on Nov. 13 at home. The Wild have won three of four on the road after dropping their first two contests away from home this season.
Like the Sharks, the Wild have a red-hot player in Mikael Granlund. The winger has registered all 13 of his points (six goals, seven assists) during a nine-game run.
Grandlund has six points (one goal, five assists) in six road games and seven points (one goals, six assists) in eight career games in San Jose.
Devan Dubnyk (6-2-2, 2.07 goals-against average) has surrendered only 12 goals while winning each of his last five starts against San Jose, but seven of the markers allowed have come at SAP Center.
He’s also yielded two goals or less in five of his last six starts.