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At the Rink: Red Wings at Sharks

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- Veteran forward Drew Miller will return to the lineup after missing 14 games because of a broken jaw when the Detroit Red Wings face the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET; FS-D, CSN-CA).

Forward Tomas Jurco, who missed the past two games because of an upper-body injury, also will return to the lineup for the Red Wings (20-13-7), who will have Petr Mrazek in goal for the fourth straight game.

Miller hasn't played since Dec. 3, when he was injured early in the first period against the Arizona Coyotes at Joe Louis Arena. He'll wear a protective cage on his helmet against San Jose (18-17-2).

"I've been skating so it's not like I've been off," Miller said after the Red Wings' morning skate at SAP Center. "I've been conditioning. So I feel ready to go from that point. Mentally you got to get out there and kind of give a few hits, take a few hits, make some plays and kind of feel your way back in. But make it quick."

Miller will return to his role on the penalty kill and should boost a unit that is tied for 20th in the NHL and has allowed 13 goals on 45 shorthanded situations without him. In the first 26 games with Miller, the Red Wings gave up 14 power play goals on 86 chances.

"I think that when I watched our penalty kill when I was out, I thought the guys did a great job," Miller said. "Sometimes the puck just goes in the net. ... I just want to play my role and do what I do, bring what I bring to the team. I think I can help on the penalty kill."

Coach Jeff Blashill said Miller should help the Red Wings on the penalty kill and at even strength.

"He's an elite defensive player," Blashill said. "He's got elite defensive smarts. That's why he's been able to be a good player in this League a long time. And he's been an elite penalty killer."

Jurco was playing some of his best hockey of the season before he was injured Dec. 31 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Detroit.

"I felt like I was playing really good," Jurco said. "Unfortunately this happened. But the good thing was it was only two games so I can get back where I left it. I just felt like I was skating a lot and forechecking hard. Just felt more comfortable on the ice when I skate more."

The Red Wings have won the first two games of their six-game road trip and are 9-5-3 away from Joe Louis Arena. The Sharks own the worst home record in the NHL at 5-11-0. They're coming off a disheartening 4-1 loss at SAP Center on Saturday to the Winnipeg Jets, a performance than an angry coach Peter DeBoer said was unacceptable.

"Obviously that's a game we want to forget about," forward Matt Nieto said after an optional morning skate at Sharks Ice. "He wasn't happy; we weren't happy. We moved on from that, had a few good practices, worked hard the last few games. We're ready to go out there and compete against the Red Wings."

Sharks fourth-line forward Mike Brown will return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch the past two games. He'll replace center Chris Tierney, who was assigned to San Jose of the American Hockey League on Sunday. Dainius Zubrus will center the fourth line.

The Sharks recalled goaltender Alex Stalock from San Jose after two games on a conditioning assignment and sent goaltender Troy Grosenick to the AHL. Goaltender Martin Jones will make his fifth straight start against Detroit, but DeBoer said he expects to use Stalock soon.

"I think the idea of sending him down was that we've got a stretch of games here, I think 11 in the next 21 nights, where I feel we're going to need both goalies, absolutely," DeBoer said. "He hadn't played in a while so that was the idea of the timing of sending him down with the idea that he would get some game action during this stretch.

"That part was kind of mission accomplished. He went down, he had two complete games, won two games, played well. Hopefully he comes back here and that translates."

Here are the projected lineups:


Justin Abdelkader - Henrik Zetterberg - Gustav Nyquist

Darren Helm - Pavel Datsyuk - Tomas Tatar

Dylan Larkin - Riley Sheahan - Brad Richards

Drew Miller - Luke Glendening - Tomas Jurco

Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson

Danny DeKeyser - Alexey Marchenko

Brendan Smith - Mike Green

Petr Mrazek

Jimmy Howard

Injured: Teemu Pulkkinen (dislocated shoulder), Kyle Quincey (ankle), Johan Franzen (concussion)

Scratched: Jakub Kindl; Joakim Andersson


Melker Karlsson - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Joel Ward

Matt Nieto - Tomas Hertl - Tommy Wingels

Joonas Donskoi - Dainius Zubrus - Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Dylan DeMelo - Brenden Dillon

Martin Jones

Alex Stalock

Injured: None

Scratched: Ben Smith, Matt Tennyson

Status report: Mrazek, coming off a 22-save shutout in a 1-0 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Monday, will start for the sixth time in the past seven games. ... Quincey skated again and will return to the lineup at some point during the road trip. The Red Wings have seven defensemen on the active roster and probably will have to trim one when Quincey returns. ... Tennyson, who was recalled from the AHL on Monday, will be a healthy scratch. DeMelo will make his 11th straight start.

Who's hot: Thornton has three goals and eight assists during an eight-game point streak. ... Burns has four goals and two assists during a four-game point streak. ... Larkin, who scored the game-winning goal against New Jersey, has one goal and two assists during a three-game point streak. ... Sheahan has one goal and two assists in his past two games.

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