All the latest from the blue paint…
Niemi looks to rebound from loss vs. Blues
Antti Niemi has lost two of his last three starts – both coming against the St. Louis Blues. He has allowed 11 goals on 48 shots as the Sharks were out-scored 14-4 against St. Louis. Niemi was pulled after 33 minutes Thursday’s 7-2 loss to the Blues. Alex Stalock started the Sharks’ only other game against New York this season – a 4-0 loss on Oct. 19. Niemi is 16-10-4 this season with a 2.63 G.A.A. and a .910 save percentage.
Henrik Lundqvist gets the start for the Rangers, who will look to extend their win streak to five games.
Senators at Coyotes: Craig Anderson vs. Mike Smith
Islanders at Blue Jackets: Chad Johnson vs. Sergei Bobrovsky
Red Wings at Capitals: Jimmy Howard vs. Braden Holtby
Penguins at Canadiens: Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Carey Price
Hurricanes at Blues: Cam Ward vs. Brian Elliott
Flames at Canucks: Jonas Hiller vs. Ryan Miller
Jets at Kings: Michael Hutchinson vs. Jonathan Quick
The San Jose Sharks will have Joe Thornton back in the lineup tonight when they play host to the New York Rangers.
Thornton has been out of the Sharks’ lineup since Dec. 31 with an upper body injury.
Thornton has nine goals and 33 points while averaging 18:16 in ice time in 38 games this season.
San Jose went 2-2-0 in Thornton’s absence including two 7-2 losses to the St. Louis Blues.
Related: ‘More than just another game’ tonight for Boyle in San Jose
Dan Boyle makes his return to San Jose Saturday night when the New York Rangers visit the Sharks.
It will be his first game back in the Bay Area after he was traded in June to the New York Islanders for a conditional fifth-round pick. In July, Boyle signed a two-year $9 million contract with the Rangers.
“It’s more than just another game,” Boyle told the San Jose Mercury News. “It’s a very special game for me.”
The 38-year-old appeared in 431 games over six seasons with the Sharks and is the franchise leader in points for a defenseman with 269.
With Boyle, the Sharks won three Pacific Division titles and advanced to the Western Conference final twice; however, Boyle, who won a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning, wasn’t able to reach the final in San Jose.
“There’s always gonna be the disappointing fact that we were never able to hoist the (Stanley) Cup,” he said. “But as time passes, I remember the great games, great crowds and the energy in the air of playing in San Jose.”
Boyle, who was injured in October when San Jose visited New York, has nine points and a plus-9 rating while averaging over 20 minutes in ice time in 22 games this season.
“Dan Boyle was as big a part of this team for the six years prior to this as anybody that we’ve had,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Friday. “We are grateful teammates, we’re a grateful organization. I’ll bet you the community is too, and the fans.
“They appreciated the effort that he gave us. I know I certainly did as a coach.”
Just five days after losing 7-2 on home ice to the Blues, the San Jose Sharks were spanked by the same score Thursday night in St. Louis.
Alex Steen, Jay Bouwmeester and Paul Stastny gave the Blues a 3-1 lead after one period.
Jori Lehtera restored the two-goal lead after Melker Karlsson had pulled the Sharks to within one and T.J. Oshie made it 5-2 after 40 minutes.
Patrik Berglund and David Backes scored third period goals while Brian Elliott made 24 saves for the win.
“For us, the two games against St. Louis give us an indication of where we’re at as a club, and where we need to go,” Sharks’ coach Todd McLellan said post-game. “There’s some high-end players on our team that really have to pick it up, and there’s also some role players that have to pick it up.
“We all have to grow as a group, and we have to get better in a lot of areas if we expect to compete against teams like St. Louis. Right now, it would be hard to find a team better than that.”
Logan Couture had the Sharks other goal while Antti Niemi made 16 saves on 21 shots before being replaced by Alex Stalock.
“You can sit here and make every single excuse in the book, but to lose 7-2 is unacceptable with this team that we have,” Couture said. “We just got beat, plain and simple, again, by that team.
“We’re better than what we’ve shown. To go out and play that team two games and get spanked like that … we haven’t been good in front of our goalies against these guys.”
All the latest from the blue paint…
Cam gets Kings
After Henrik Lundqvist beat Anaheim last night, the Rangers will give Cam Talbot the start this evening when they take on the Kings for the first time since last year’s Stanley Cup Final.
Talbot, who’s emerged as one of the league’s better backups over the last season-and-a-half, last played on Dec. 21 against Carolina, stopping all 18 shots faced for his third shutout of the season. The 27-year-old is 3-3-1 on the year with a 2.02 GAA and .928 save percentage, and has just one loss in his last four outings.
No official word yet on who’ll start for the Kings, though Jonathan Quick was the first goalie off the ice at today’s morning skate.
Devils at Bruins: Cory Schneider for New Jersey, no word yet on a Boston starter.
Caps at Flyers: Steve Mason for Philly, no word yet on a Washington starter.
Sabres at ‘Canes: Jhonas Enroth vs. Cam Ward
Blackhawks at Wild: Corey Crawford vs. Niklas Backstrom
Stars at Preds: Kari Lehtonen likely for Dallas, Pekka Rinne likely for Nashville.
Sharks at Blues: Antti Niemi vs. Brian Elliott
Sens at Avs: Craig Anderson vs. Semyon Varlamov
Jets at Coyotes: Ondrej Pavelec vs. Mike Smith
Panthers at Canucks: Roberto Luongo vs. Ryan Miller