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At the Rink: Panthers at Sharks

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks are searching for some offensive punch from their bottom-two lines, and rookie forward Nikolay Goldobin will get a chance to provide it against the Florida Panthers on Thursday at SAP Center (10:30 p.m. ET; FS-F, CSN-CA).

Goldobin, a first-round choice (No. 27) in the 2014 NHL Draft, was recalled from the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League and will skate on the third line with center Chris Tierney and Tommy Wingels.

The 20-year-old Russian played three road games for the Sharks last month and scored his first NHL goal Oct. 17 against the New York Islanders, but he was sent down on Oct. 21. He had one goal, one assist and 11 shots in five games with the Barracuda.

"I'm really excited to play," Goldobin said after the Sharks' morning skate. "It's my first home game. I have a big opportunity to score a goal, first home goal.

"I think the coaches sent me down so I could be the leader and get some points and show that I can come back and play here on that level."

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said he's looking for a more consistent effort from Goldobin in his second NHL stint.

"I thought last time up he had one excellent game and one game where his level dropped a little bit," DeBoer said. "For all young players, it's consistently bringing a high level of game to the rink. The message was go down there and work hard and you'll get an opportunity soon to be back. I think we're really trying to reward the guys down there on the merit of their play. All reports were he was excellent the other night, and that's why he's getting an opportunity."

Goldobin is known most for his offensive skills, but he worked hard on his defensive play with the Barracuda.

"Yeah, always defense," Goldobin said, laughing. "Every time. I think it's getting better. Just need more time."

The Sharks also recalled Micheal Haley from the Barracuda, and he'll center the fourth line between Bryan Lerg and Matt Nieto, who moved down from the third line.

Sharks backup goaltender Alex Stalock will make his third start of the season and second in four games. He also came off the bench and replaced Martin Jones after the second period of San Jose's 5-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. Stalock faced only two shots but stopped them both.

Overall, Stalock is off to a rough start this season. He's 0-2-0 with a 3.94 goals-against average and .847 save percentage. Having some game action two days ago should help, he said.

"It's a must-win for the team though," Stalock said of the 6-6-0 Sharks. "Obviously for me it's a must-win. For us as a team it's time to roll off a few (wins) in a row. No better place to start than tonight."

DeBoer said he likes Stalock's focus but doesn't believe it's a must-win game for him.

"We all know what he's capable of," DeBoer said. "He's had a little bit of unfortunate luck in the circumstances he's been in so far this year. But I don't have any doubt that he's going to help us tonight and in the future."

The Panthers are coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday at Honda Center. Florida did not have a morning skate, but backup goaltender Al Montoya is expected to make his fourth start of the season. Two of Montoya's previous starts came on the tail end of back-to-back games.

Montoya is 2-0-1 with a 1.63 GAA and .941 save percentage for the Panthers (5-4-3).

Here are the projected lineups:


Jonathan Huberdeau - Nick Bjugstad - Jaromir Jagr

Jussi Jokinen - Vincent Trocheck - Reilly Smith

Brandon Pirri - Dave Bolland - Rocco Grimaldi

Garrett Wilson - Derek MacKenzie - Quinton Howden

Brian Campbell - Aaron Ekblad

Dmitry Kulikov - Alex Petrovic

Willie Mitchell - Erik Gudbranson

Al Montoya

Roberto Luongo

Injured: Aleksander Barkov (wrist)

Scratched: Shawn Thornton, Steven Kampfer, Connor Brickley


Joonas Donskoi - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau - Tomas Hertl - Joel Ward

Nikolay Goldobin - Chris Tierney - Tommy Wingels

Matt Nieto - Micheal Haley - Bryan Lerg

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon - Matt Tennyson

Martin Jones

Alex Stalock

Injured: Logan Couture (broken leg), Ben Smith (head), Mike Brown (upper body)

Scratched: None

Status report: Smith and Brown were not on the ice for the Sharks' morning skate. Brown was injured during a first-period fight against the Blue Jackets' Gregory Campbell. He went directly to the locker room but returned to the game early in the second period. DeBoer said he expects Brown to return Saturday against the Ducks. Smith is day-to-day. … Sharks fourth-line wing Barclay Goodrow was sent down Wednesday to the Barracuda.

Who's hot: Pavelski has a career-high five-game goal streak. He's scored six goals during that span, including two on Tuesday against Columbus. Ward has two goals in his past three games. … Jagr leads the Panthers in points (10) and goals (6), despite missing two of Florida's 12 games.

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