San Jose Sharks

Goalie nods: Dubnyk goes again for Wild in key game vs. Flames

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All the latest from the blue paint…

All Devan, all the time

Devan Dubnyk has been the goalie of record for Minnesota since coming over from Arizona two weeks ago, and that won’t change tonight when the Wild face the Flames in Calgary.

Dubnyk, who’s posted a .911 save percentage and 2.04 GAA in five games, is coming off a 2-1 win over Edmonton in which he stopped 23 of 24 shots. He’ll need a similar performance tonight if the 12th-place Wild want to stay within striking distance of the eighth-place Flames, who are currently seven points up in the standings:

For Calgary, Jonas Hiller starts in goal.

Elsewhere…

Bruins at Isles: Jaroslav Halak for New York, Tuukka Rask likely for Boston.

Habs at Rangers: Carey Price vs. Henrik Lundqvist

Jets at Flyers: Michael Hutchinson vs. Steve Mason

Jackets at Panthers: Curtis McElhinney vs. Roberto Luongo

Wings at Bolts: Petr Mrazek vs. Ben Bishop

Stars at Sens: Robin Lehner for Ottawa, Kari Lehtonen likely for Dallas.

Coyotes at Leafs: Mike Smith vs. Jonathan Bernier

Preds at Blues: Carter Hutton vs. Brian Elliott

Sabres at Oilers: Jhonas Enroth vs. Ben Scrivens

Ducks at Sharks: Ilya Bryzgalov likely for Anaheim, Antti Niemi likely for San Jose.

Seeking consistency, Sharks in ‘dog fight’ to make playoffs

The San Jose Sharks went into the All-Star break on a positive. The group that coach Todd McLellan had accused of lacking “drive” beat the Los Angeles Kings, 4-2, on Jan. 21.

“We needed this game,” forward Joe Pavelski said when it was over. “But it needs to be that way every night.”

Especially since the Sharks are still on the bubble when it comes to making the playoffs. Tonight, they host the red-hot Anaheim Ducks, winners of six straight.

“We’re in a dog fight. That’s the best way of putting it,” McLellan said, per CSN Bay Area.

“Consistency is still a word that we use constantly around here, bringing it all the time, and being emotionally attached to the games. That will be a focus moving forward, and our overall game still needs growth.”

Of note, the Sharks have recalled winger Daniil Tarasov from Worcester. The 23-year-old Russian has 25 points (10G, 15A) for San Jose’s AHL affiliate this season, which leads the team.

No word yet when Tarasov will make his NHL debut.

NHL on NBCSN: Sharks’ ‘dog fight’ continues vs. red hot Ducks

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign with a doubleheader tonight. The second half will start at 10:30 p.m. ET with the San Jose Sharks hosting the Anaheim Ducks at the SAP Center. In addition to NBCSN, you can watch it online.

The Ducks have won six straight games and are on track to claim the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time. One thing they haven’t been able to do so is regularly get the better of the Sharks. In four meetings this season, San Jose has earned three victories and has outscored Anaheim 15-8.

Given how strong a team the Ducks have, already having the season series against them locked is a big accomplishment for San Jose, but it hasn’t been enough. Although the Sharks are in a playoff position right now, they only have a two-point cushion.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting an $25,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Thursday night’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Thursday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

“We’re in a dog fight. That’s the best way of putting it,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan told CSN Bay Area.

He added, “We’re a middle-of-the-pack team right now. Until we declare ourselves any different, and that’s through play and wins, that’s what we are. We have to take steps forward to overcome that.”

The Sharks mediocrity this season stems from their inconsistency. In their first game back from the All-Star break, they have an opportunity to set a new tone going forward. It can be a new beginning for guys like Tomas Hertl, who dazzled observers when he was healthy during his rookie season, but has endured a rough sophomore campaign with just 17 points in 48 games. It’s also a chance for Patrick Marleau to regroup. He scored at least 30 goals for five straight campaigns (not counting the lockout-shortened season), but has found the back of the net just nine times this season.

The Ducks will naturally counter with the one-two punch of forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. While Anaheim collectively hasn’t had much success against San Jose this season, that duo has remained very effective and will likely make life difficult again for the Sharks.

The Sharks need these two points more than Anaheim, but the Ducks shouldn’t have a difficult time staying motivated as they battle to put themselves in the best possible position going into the playoffs.

PHT Morning Skate: Ottawa will give Alfredsson key to the city

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Former Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson will meet Ottawa mayor Jim Watson to receive the key to the city. Upon hearing that, current captain Erik Karlsson said, “I’m changing my locks.” (Sportsnet)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting an $25,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Thursday night’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Thursday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Johnny Gaudreau reportedly got a big payday over his late addition to the All-Star Game. (Calgary Sun)

Here are the highlights from Los Angeles’ 4-3 win against Chicago:

Martin Brodeur, who is expected to officially retire this morning, will drop the puck in tonight’s game between the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators. (Blues.nhl.com)

Tomas Hertl’s sophomore campaign hasn’t gone as planned, but he thinks playing in the minors during the All-Star break was a good experience. (CSN Bay Area)

Here are the highlights from Washington’s 4-0 victory over Pittsburgh:

Adam Larsson is rewarding the New Jersey Devils for trusting him in the post-Pete DeBoer era. (NJ.com)

Tyler Kennedy hasn’t had any luck this season as on Wednesday it was revealed he’ll be sidelined for a fourth time. (CSN Bay Area)

Get your game notes: Pens at Caps

Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Washington Capitals hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

TOP STORYLINES

• Tuesday night – PIT def. WPG 5-3: This win snapped PIT’s 4-game losing streak (0-2-2 record).

• Neither Sidney Crosby (lower-body) nor Evgeni Malkin (lower-body) played yesterday.

• Crosby was forced to sit out yesterday because he skipped the All-Star Game, but he practiced in Tuesday’s morning skate and could return tonight.

• Malkin has been placed on IR, and he has not played since a 3-2 (OT) loss to PHI on Jan. 20.

• The Pens are now 9-0-1 in their last 10 games in which both Crosby and Malkin HAVE NOT played, dating back to 2011.

• Patric Hornqvist (lower-body – missed 11 games) and Kris Letang (head – missed 1 game) returned to the lineup last night and provided an instant boost for PIT.

• Hornqvist hadn’t played since Dec. 27, and scored his 14th goal (empty-net goal) this season.

• Letang missed last Wednesday’s game after taking a hard check from Zac Rinaldo the day before (Rinaldo was suspended 8 games for the hit). In his return last night, Letang assisted on all 5 Penguins goals – a career high for both assists and points in a game. He is the first defenseman with 5 assists in a game since Dion Phaneuf for CGY in Dec. 2007.

• Lapierre, 29, is in 10th NHL season (now 5th NHL team). Pens GM Jim Rutherford cited Lapierre’s grit, playoff history, and ability to replace Goc on the penalty kill as reasons for the deal (see pg.3 for quotes).

• Washington hitting a slide: The Caps have now lost 4 straight games (0-3-1 record) following their 4-3 loss in Columbus last night. This comes directly after a six-week stretch in which the Capitals earned points in 18 of 19 games (14-1-4 record from Dec. 4 to Jan. 14).

• Team defense has slipped for WSH – it has allowed 4+ goals in all 4 games during the losing streak.

CROSBY VS. OVECHKIN

• Ovechkin was held without a point yesterday vs. CBJ, but he has 11 goals in his last 12 games (11G-4A).

• Ovechkin is t-1st in the NHL in power play goals (12, w/ Joe Pavelski of SJ). Ovechkin has led the NHL in PPG each of the last 2 seasons.

• Crosby has gone 2 straight games without a point. His longest stretch without a point this season was a 3-game span from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4.

PITTSBURGH TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• David Perron has been productive since he was acquired from EDM; after a goal and an assist last night, he now has 9 pts (6G-3A) in 9 gms with the Pens.

• He now has more goals with the Pens than he did the entire first half of the season with the Oilers.

• Thomas Greiss stopped 19 of 22 shots last night in the win.

• Marc-Andre Fleury last played a week ago in a 3-2 (SO) loss to CHI; he stopped 24 of 26 shots. Fleury is on a personal 3-game losing streak (0-2-1 record), and since Dec. 22, he has won just 3 of 12 starts.

WASHINGTON TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Nicklas Backstrom had an assist last night – the 400th of his career – to extent his point streak to 4 games (2G-4A).

• John Carlson had an assist last night to extend his point streak to 3 games (0G-4A). He ranks t-4th among NHL d-men in points (35), and t-2nd in assists (30).

• Through 47 GP, Carlson has already tied his career-high for assists w/ 30, and he is just 2 points away from his career-high of 37.

• Carlson also leads WSH in TOI/G at 23:21.

• Earlier in the month, Braden Holtby set a franchise record by appearing in 27 straight games from Nov. 18 to Jan. 16. This is also the longest consecutive games played streak by a goalie in the NHL this season.

• Holtby is 1 win away from tying his career-high of 23, done in each of the past two seasons.

• Holtby has allowed 4 goals in each of his last 3 starts (0-2-1 record), including his 4 GA on 30 shots last night in the loss to CBJ.

• Holtby had a 31-save shutout vs. PIT in the first meeting this season on Dec. 27.