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Sharks are trying to take four-game losing streak in stride

The San Jose Sharks’ Pacific Division lead is in some peril. They’ve now lost four straight games after Saturday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Flyers in Philly. Is it time to panic?

Not quite.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer isn’t too flustered by this tough span – something Joe Pavelski deems a “funk” – especially since some of these defeats feel a little random, as he told CSN Bay Area.

“We’ve lost three games in overtime or shootouts. Those are coin flips,” DeBoer said. “I don’t feel we’re in a rut, no. No.”

(Aside: it is a little amusing that this isn’t a rut [according to DeBoer] but it might be a funk [by Pavelski’s estimation]. So a funk is better than a rut? Cool.)

The Sharks get a chance to grab one win on this current four-game road swing if they can beat the Devils in New Jersey on Sunday. There is some logic to finding a silver lining in at least grinding out “charity points” during a stretch of road games, even if some fans will be left grumbling.

The rest of February isn’t too rough on the Sharks, trading off home and road games here and there. March is where the meat of their opportunities and challenges reside.

From March 9-18, the Sharks enjoy a six-game homestand that concludes with a March 18 meeting versus the Anaheim Ducks, their hated rival who’s currently ranked second in the Pacific.

After that, they play four in a row and seven of eight on the road from March 20 – April 2, then their season concludes with three home games.

With those stretches in mind, it’s understandable that DeBoer is trying to keep the highs and lows limited right now. There are bigger obstacles ahead.

Zetterberg on pace to play 1,000th game in Joe Louis Arena farewell

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Barring injury, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will get the opportunity to make his 1,000th NHL game even more special.

Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill confirmed today that Zetterberg will play tonight and tomorrow in Carolina, putting the 36-year-old on pace to play his 1,000th game on Apr. 9, the date of the final Wings game at Joe Louis Arena.

The Wings, who will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1990, have eight games left in their regular season. They host New Jersey on Apr. 9.

Tonight’s game was originally scheduled for Dec. 19, but had to be postponed due to poor ice conditions at PNC Arena.

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

Update:

Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.