Sharks wrap up homestand against struggling Red Wings (Mar 11, 2018)
At this time of the season, the caliber of opponent doesn't matter to the San Jose Sharks. All that matters are points and seeding.
The Sharks wrap up their longest homestand of the season Monday night by trying to hand the Detroit Red Wings their seventh straight loss.
"We were good enough to hang around and stay in it but not good enough to win, and that's the line you have to be on the right side of this time of year," coach Peter DeBoer said.
San Jose is second in the Pacific Division, and trying to hold off the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames over the final 3 1/2 weeks of the season. The Sharks are 12 points behind the Vegas Golden Knights, who are cruising to a division title in their inaugural season.
"We're trying to make the playoffs. Trying to get points against anyone," said winger Logan Couture, who leads the team with 27 goals.
After potting 12 goals over the first two games in the homestand, San Jose has found the back of the net only four times over the last three contests.
Couture, Joe Pavelski and Timo Meier carried the Sharks' offense by combining for seven goals and three assists in wins over the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks. Over the last three contests, the three players combined for one assist.
The Sharks seek a split of the season series after a 2-1 shootout loss on Jan. 31 in Detroit despite 43 saves through overtime from Jones (22-18-6, 2.46 goals-against average, four shutouts), who has split two career starts versus the Red Wings at SAP Center.
Aaron Dell (14-5-3, 2.65 GAA, two shutouts) has not started since yielding a career-high seven goals against the Nashville Predators on Feb. 22. He has never faced the Wings.
San Jose is 7-8-0 against Metropolitan opponents -- its only losing record against a division in 2017-18.
Detroit (26-31-11) opened a five-game road trip on Friday with a 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have a 14-point lead over the Red Wings for the second wild card spot. Barring an unlikely turnaround, Detroit will miss the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1981 and 1982.
"What we're doing right now is preparing ourselves, the young guys, for next year and for their careers, really," longtime defenseman Niklas Kronwall told the team's official website.
The Red Wings, who haven't won since beating the New York Rangers in overtime on Feb. 25, have been outscored 23-12 during their skid. Anthony Mantha has been Detroit's top scorer with five points (three goals, two assists) in six games. The third-year winger leads the club with 23 goals and is third with 41 points.
But two players with virtually nonexistent production recently are also their top two scorers. Center Dylan Larkin (nine goals, 40 assists) and fellow center Henrik Zetterberg (nine goals, 35 assists) have each registered two assists over the last six games.
Petr Mrazek was in goal for the win over the Sharks this season, but he was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers before the trade deadline.
Howard is 4-3-1 with a 2.86 GAA in eight career starts in San Jose. Coreau was lifted after giving up three first-period goals in his only appearance in the Bay Area, a 6-3 loss on Jan. 7, 2017.
Detroit has won eight of 13 matchups with Pacific opponents. The Wings will face Anaheim and Los Angeles before concluding their trip on March 18 against the Colorado Avalanche.