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Reimer starts for Sharks; Coyotes counter with Smith

San Jose goalie is 2-1-0 since being traded from Toronto on Feb. 27

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

COYOTES (31-33-7) at SHARKS (40-25-6)

TV: 10 p.m. ET; FS-A, CSN-CA, NHL.TV

SAN JOSE -- Backup goalie James Reimer will make his fourth start for the San Jose Sharks on Sunday against the Arizona Coyotes at SAP Center.

Since being traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 27, Reimer has gone 2-1-0 with one shutout, while giving No. 1 goaltender Martin Jones some much needed rest. Reimer has stopped 74 of 79 shots faced.

"He's been great," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "This guy's a starting goalie in the NHL, and it's a great luxury to have."

The Sharks will be without top-pair defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body) and third-line forward Matt Nieto (broken knuckle) for the second straight game. Vlasic is considered day-to-day. Nieto said he is expected to miss 3-4 weeks.

Nieto said he was injured blocking a shot in the second period of a 3-1 loss to Arizona on Thursday at Gila River Arena. He broke a knuckle on his right index finger.

"I tried playing a few shifts after that but it continued to get worse," Nieto said. 

DeBoer said he expects Nieto to be ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Nieto agreed.

"I've just been told the time frame's going to be 3-4 weeks," Nieto said. "So I'm going to do everything I can. I'm positive that I'll be ready."

Tommy Wingels will take Nieto's spot in the lineup again, and Dylan DeMelo will play his second straight game in place of Vlasic.

Arizona goalie Mike Smith, who will start Sunday, made 27 saves against San Jose on Thursday and continued his dominance of the Sharks. He is 10-5-2 with a 2.18 goals-against average and .941 save percentage against San Jose in his career.

"For me, he's the best puck-handling goalie in the League," DeBoer said. "I thought that we allowed him to handle it way too much last game, so we have to clean that up. He's a big guy. We've got to get in his eyes, make him uncomfortable, keep him deep in his net. You got to give him some credit too. He was very good. He's an elite guy. When you have those type of guys you got to try and get as much traffic as possible."

Smith is 2-0-0 since returning after missing 40 games because of surgery to repair an abdominal injury in December. Backup goalie Louis Domingue played in the 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (shoulder), who has missed five straight games, was one of four Coyotes who skated Sunday morning. Coach Dave Tippett said Ekman-Larsson is doubtful Sunday. 

Here are the projected lineups:


Alex Tanguay - Antoine Vermette - Anthony Duclair

Tobias Rieder - Martin Hanzal - Viktor Tikhonov

Max Domi - Brad Richardson - Shane Doan

Jordan Martinook - Boyd Gordon - Kyle Chipchura

Kevin Connauton - Connor Murphy

Klas Dahlbeck - Zbynek Michalek

Nicklas Grossman - Michael Stone

Mike Smith

Louis Domingue

Injured: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (shoulder), Anders Lindback (Achilles surgery), Joe Vitale (fractured orbital bone)

Scratched: Sergei Plotnikov, Philip Samuelsson, Jiri Sekac


Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Melker Karlsson - Logan Couture - Joonas Donskoi

Patrick Marleau - Chris Tierney - Joel Ward

Tommy Wingels - Nick Spaling - Dainius Zubrus

Dylan DeMelo - Justin Braun

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon - Roman Polak

James Reimer

Martin Jones

Injured: Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body), Matt Nieto (hand), Matt Tennyson (head)

Scratched: None

Status report: Plotnikov has started nine straight games, but will be a scratch. Chipchura could return to the lineup after being scratched the past six games. Sekac will likely be scratched for the sixth straight game. ... Tippett said a couple players are dealing with minor injuries and that he might have to adjust his lineup. Samuelsson, a defenseman who was an emergency call-up Friday from Springfield of the American Hockey League, is an option, if needed. He did not skate Sunday morning. 

Who's hot: Thornton has a four-game point streak with two goals and three assists. ... Hertl had a career-high three assists Saturday in a 4-1 victory against the New York Rangers, extending his point streak to four games (1-5--6). ... Vermette has four goals and two assists in his past four games. ... Stone has a goal and three assists in his past three games.

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