Tonight’s battle between the Sharks and Avalanche in Denver (9 p.m. ET on Versus) is the front end of a home-and-home set between the two and one that sees both teams looking to snap a losing streak.
The Sharks have lost two in a row and six of their last eight games. They’ve shaken up the lines to get Patrick Marleau focused and have bounced between Antti Niemi and Thomas Greiss in goal but consistency eludes them. Going from scoring goals in bunches to not scoring at all is frustrating and something that the skating Joes (Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski) hope to fix.
The Avalanche’s problems have been hanging around all season. They roll into tonight’s game losers of three in a row. With this current losing streak coming on the heels of a three game win streak, “frustration” is the most obvious word to use here and bag skating the team isn’t yielding results.
Semyon Varlamov has flip-flopped from playing brilliantly to getting lit up. Meanwhile, the bulk of the scoring falls on captain Milan Hejduk’s shoulders while other leaders Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny have struggled this season.
On the upside for Colorado, Stastny is due to return from injury tonight and the Avs are hoping he’s brought his old play making ways with him.
Rookie to watch: Gabriel Landeskog is about as good as it gets for Colorado and the 2011 draft’s second overall pick is showing that he’s worth all the hype. While playing on Colorado’s third line he’s picked up five goals and eight assists and on a team that doesn’t score a ton, he’s looked good.
Tonight in Anaheim, Anders Lindback will make his first start for the Arizona Coyotes since Jan. 16.
The Coyotes have been riding rookie Louis Domingue since just before Christmas, but Domingue has allowed five goals in each of his last three starts, including last night’s 5-4 loss to Chicago.
Lindback’s last appearance came Tuesday in relief, when he allowed one goal on 10 shots in a 6-2 loss to the Kings.
Lindback was in goal for one of Arizona’s three victories this season over Anaheim, stopping 33 of 36 shots in a 4-3 overtime win on Nov. 9. However, his .896 save percentage ranks among the lowest in the league.
Frederik Andersen is expected to start for the Ducks.
— No word yet on a Penguins starter in Tampa, but Ben Bishop will go for the Bolts.
— Cam Ward will start for the Hurricanes in Winnipeg, where Connor Hellebuyck is expected for the increasingly desperate Jets.
— Joonas Korpisalo was solid last night in Vancouver, but the Blue Jackets have not announced their starter for tonight’s game in Calgary. Karri Ramo will be in goal for the Flames.
The latest Penguins injuries, these ones to Evgeni Malkin and Eric Fehr, have led to an opportunity for Oskar Sundqvist.
Sundqvist will make his NHL debut for the Penguins tonight in Tampa. The 21-year-old center has five goals and 11 assists in 39 AHL games this season.
“Sunny’s a pretty solid two-way player,” coach Mike Sullivan said, per the Tribune-Review.
“I don’t think he’s going to dazzle you with flashy plays, but I think he’s a guy who plays the game the right way. He’s hard to play against because of his size. He’s got a long reach, and he’s got a good stick.”
Sundqvist was selected 81st overall by the Pens in 2012. He’ll become the fourth player out of that Pittsburgh draft class to make his NHL debut, after Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot, and Matt Murray.
Veteran Matt Cullen will replace Malkin on the second line, skating with wingers Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel.
Related: Nick Bonino out ‘at least a month’ with hand injury
As if John Scott wasn’t already having a great week, now he’s the proud father of twin girls.
The Montreal Canadiens shared the good news via their Twitter account today.
Scott, the unlikely 2016 All-Star Game MVP, is currently back home in Michigan; however, he’s expected to resume his career at some point with Montreal’s AHL affiliate in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
When, exactly, he suits up for the IceCaps remains to be seen, but it won’t be tonight or tomorrow.
Related: Therrien on Canadiens possibly recalling John Scott: ‘You never know’
The Anaheim Ducks have played the Arizona Coyotes three times this season, and all three times they’ve lost.
The Ducks’ most recent defeat at the hands of the plucky Desert Dogs — on Nov. 25 by a score of 4-2 — left head coach Bruce Boudreau to lament the “times we looked like we were brain dead.”
Those were not fun times for the Anaheim Ducks.
But, of course, that was then and this is now. And right now, there aren’t many hotter teams than Anaheim.
That’s why Boudreau is calling the fourth installment of Ducks-Coyotes, tonight at Honda Center, “the biggest game of the year” for his resurgent club.
“This team has kicked our butt three times,” he said. “We both know what [tonight] means.”
Anaheim enters on a five-game winning streak.
“We have a nice little streak going here,” said defenseman Kevin Bieksa. “Everything is better when you’re winning, and we want to keep it going.”
A regulation Ducks win would move Anaheim three points clear of Arizona for third spot in the Pacific Division.
The Coyotes, meanwhile, have lost three straight and have just two wins in their last nine. So tonight is a big game for them, too. A regulation win and they’d catapult the Ducks into a playoff spot.