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At the Rink: Lightning at Sharks

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE - The San Jose Sharks will be without defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning at SAP Center on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET; SUN, CSN-CA).

Vlasic, who has played 695 games over 10 seasons with the Sharks, sustained a lower-body injury Friday during San Jose's 1-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. Coach Peter DeBoer wasn't sure how serious the injury was.

"I don't know [the extent of the injury]" DeBoer said after a team meeting. "That's all I'm going to say for now."

Defenseman Mirco Mueller was called up from the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League and will replace Vlasic in the lineup.

"Obviously he plays solid minutes for us," Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said of Vlasic. "Any time you lose one of your top defensemen it's going to be a little bit of a hole, and guys just need to do a good job of playing together out there."

Backup goaltender Alex Stalock will make his sixth start of the season for San Jose (14-11-0). He's 2-3-0 with a 2.88 goals-against average and an .896 save percentage.

"Al's done a good job for us," DeBoer said. "He's a good teammate. Guys play hard for him. He plays with energy. You know you're always going to get a real good effort out of him. I think it's on our guys to make sure we give him some support here tonight."

Chris Tierney will return to the lineup and center the Sharks' fourth line, one night after being a healthy scratch for the first time this season. Tierney, who has two goals, four assists and a minus-six rating, said he hopes to bring a lot of energy to the Sharks.

"I didn't play [Friday] night so obviously I should be rested," Tierney said. "I think we just want to, as a fourth line, bring jump and energy to the game and keep the puck in their end and throw stuff at the net and try to get a greasy one in. I think our main goal is to make sure we're plus players. We don't want to be minus at the end of the night. That's not going to help the team win."

Tampa Bay should be well-rested after two days off following its 2-1 victory against the Ducks on Wednesday at Honda Center. The Lightning had an optional skate with only a handful of players on the ice at SAP Center, and coach Jon Cooper did not attend.

The Lightning (12-11-3) begin a set of back-to-back games, and it's possible that backup goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy will start against either San Jose, or the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday at Staples Center in place of Ben Bishop.

Bishop has won four of his past five starts, allowing one or fewer goals in each of his victories. He's 10-8-2 with a 1.99 GAA and a .929 save percentage. Vasilevskiy is 2-3-0 with a 2.44 GAA and a .919 save percentage.

Injured forwards Cedric Paquette (upper body) and Tyler Johnson (undisclosed) are not expected to be in the lineup. Paquette has missed seven games and Johnson has missed two.

Here are the projected lineups:


Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Steven Stamkos

Jonathan Drouin - Vladislav Namestnikov - Nikita Kucherov

J.T. Brown - Brian Boyle - Ryan Callahan

Joel Vermin - Jonathan Marchessault - Erik Condra

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Matthew Carle - Jason Garrison

Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Injured: Ondrej Palat (ankle), Cedric Paquette (upper body), Tyler Johnson (undisclosed)

Scratched: Nikita Nesterov


Melker Karlsson - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Joonas Donskoi - Patrick Marleau - Joel Ward

Matt Nieto - Tomas Hertl - Tommy Wingels

Dainius Zubrus - Chris Tierney - Mike Brown

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon - Justin Braun

Mirco Mueller - Matt Tennyson

Alex Stalock

Martin Jones

Injured: Logan Couture (broken leg), Ben Smith (concussion), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body)

Scratched: Dylan DeMelo

Status report: The Sharks reassigned fourth-line forward Micheal Haley to the San Jose Barracuda. ... DeBoer did not reveal his defensive pairs, minus Vlasic. When Justin Braun, Vlasic's partner, recenelty missed two games, Dillon replaced him and Mueller and Tennyson skated together. ... The Lightning used seven defensemen and 11 forwards against Anaheim, with Nesterov in the lineup and Vermin out. It's unknown whether Cooper will use seven defensemen again.

Who's hot: Stamkos leads the Lightning in points (19), goals (11) and power play goals (six). ... Marleau has four goals and two assists over his past five games. ... Pavelski leads the Sharks in points (24), goals (12) and game-winning goals (four).

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