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At the Rink: Hurricanes at Sharks

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks had six rookies in their lineup when they beat the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Thursday.

Based on their morning skate at SAP Center, the Sharks will stick with their six-pack of rookies against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.

Rookie Chris Tierney scored his first NHL goal in the Sharks' 5-1 win against Vancouver and will center the fourth line again. Daniil Tarasov, who had an assist in his NHL debut Thursday, will skate with Tierney.

"It's nice when you have other guys you can kind of go through this with, other younger rookies," said Tierney, who also had an assist against Vancouver. "You can kind of feed off each other and push each other on the ice. It was good that we had a good last game and hopefully we can keep it going."

Rookie top-line left wing Melker Karlsson scored his ninth goal of the season Thursday and will be in the lineup for the 25th consecutive game since being called up from Worcester of the American Hockey League. Third-line forward Barclay Goodrow, another rookie, will play his 37th game of the season.

First-year defenseman Mirco Mueller, who was in the lineup Thursday for the first time since Dec. 11, will play his second consecutive game. Rookie defenseman Matt Tennyson will play his 23rd game of the season.

"Age, rookie status doesn't mean much to me," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "It's about whether players can help. And I understand they all have to play their first games. But we're not chasing an age. A few years ago we were talking about our organization, 'Is the window closing because we have older players?' It didn't matter then, it doesn't matter now. It's who can get on the ice, who can contribute and help us win."

Tarasov was called up from Worcester on Jan. 29 but was a healthy scratch for four games before making his NHL debut.

"I've been sitting too much," Tarasov said. "I was definitely ready to go. I'm excited for being in the lineup tonight and ready to go.

"I thought it went pretty well. The first couple shifts I definitely was nervous a little bit. As the game went on I felt more comfortable out there. Speed-wise, there are definitely fast guys out there. I tried to use my legs. It was good."

McLellan has 299 career wins; he has a chance Saturday to become the second-fastest coach in NHL history to reach 300 victories. It will be McLellan's 512th game; Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau had his 300th win in his 496th game.

"Scotty Bowman, Ken Hitchcock, Al Arbour, those are milestones," McLellan said. "We're just kind of road bumps along the way. I don't reflect much on that at all. ... Obviously it would be nice to get there tonight, but not for me. It has nothing to do about me. It's for the group and where we are. That'll be the focus."

The Hurricanes will be without defenseman Ryan Murphy, who sustained a lower-body injury during the first period Thursday of Carolina's 2-1 shootout victory against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. Murphy was hit in the face by a stick and fell awkwardly to the ice. He left the game and did not return.

"Going to get an MRI done Monday when we get home to Raleigh and we'll know more then," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "Out for the foreseeable future. We'll say day-to-day, lower body, and we'll know a lot more Monday."

Defenseman Brett Bellemore will replace Murphy in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the past three games.

Based on Carolina's morning skate, Peters will juggle his top three lines. Jiri Tlusty is expected to move from the third line to the first, with Elias Lindholm dropping to the second line and Alexander Semin going to the third.

"Defensively we were real good. I thought we played with structure in Arizona," Peters said. "Now we got to find a way to generate more offense."

Goaltender Cam Ward will make his second consecutive start for Carolina. He made 28 saves in regulation and overtime and stopped all three shots he faced in the shootout against Arizona.

"I thought he was real good," Peters said. "Deserves to play and he's going to get the start tonight."

San Jose has had trouble against many of the League's worst teams this season. The Hurricanes are last in the Metropolitan Division with 43 points, but they're 4-1-2 in their past seven games and 8-3-3 in 2015. Carolina has played much better since top-line center Jordan Staal recovered from a broken leg and made his season debut Dec. 29.

"It's been so much different having Jordan back," Tlusty said. "He gave us the strength and kind of the boost that we needed. Lately we have a full lineup. Everyone's healthy, and it's easier to play with everyone back in the lineup. Everything is much better now. We are almost in every game. Now it's about details."

Here are the projected lineups:


Eric Staal - Jordan Staal - Jiri Tlusty

Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Elias Lindholm

Nathan Gerbe - Andrej Nestrasil - Alexander Semin

Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Patrick Dwyer

Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk

Tim Gleason - John-Michael Liles

Ron Hainsey - Brett Bellemore

Cam Ward

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Chris Terry, Riley Nash

Injured: Ryan Murphy (lower body)


Melker Karlsson - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Matt Nieto

Tomas Hertl - James Sheppard - Barclay Goodrow

Andrew Desjardins - Chris Tierney - Daniil Tarasov

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brent Burns

Matt Irwin - Matt Tennyson

Brenden Dillon - Mirco Mueller

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

Scratched: Scott Hannan, Tyler Kennedy, John Scott

Injured: Raffi Torres (knee), Mike Brown (right leg), Tommy Wingels (left hand), Justin Braun (left hand), Tye McGinn (upper body)

Status report: McGinn skated but will miss his third straight game. ... Niemi will face Carolina for the first time this season. Rookie Troy Grosenick made 45 saves against Carolina on Nov. 16 in a 2-0 shutout in his NHL debut. ... Nash will be a healthy scratch for the second straight game after playing the first 50 games.

Who's hot: Pavelski leads the NHL with 15 power-play goals and is tied for third in total goals with 28. He has three goals and four points in his past three games. ... Jordan Staal has one goal and five assists in his past six games.

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