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At the Rink: Sharks at Flames

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- The San Jose Sharks will put their season-high three-game winning streak on the line against the Calgary Flames, a team which kick-started a run of their own at the Sharks’ expense over a week ago.

The Flames have won four straight games, a winning streak which began with a 2-0 victory in San Jose on Nov. 26. The defeat left the Sharks winless in four before rallying for three consecutive wins.

"We’re finding ways to win," Sharks center Logan Couture said after the morning skate. "We’re doing a lot of good things. Low scoring games, high scoring games, we’re finding a way to win. Earlier in the season it seemed like we were just finding a way to lose the game by a goal or two. It’s little plays in the game that we’re making now. It’s nice to win a couple games in a row. We’ve got to keep it going, though."

San Jose has outscored opponents 15-9 on their run, including a 6-4 win against the Anaheim Ducks a week ago and Thursday’s 7-4 victory against the Boston Bruins.

The Flames have taken notice.

"We understand since we went into San Jose, the Sharks have won their last three games and have scored 15 goals," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "They’re playing up to their potential. They’re a very dangerous hockey club but at the same time I think we have to be ourselves.

"Right before the game we’re going to have our 5-on-5 meeting, look at their tendencies. We do minor tweaks, minor adjustments but we have to be ourselves."

Calgary center Matt Stajan, who didn't play against the Sharks because of a knee injury, will be in the lineup after missing 15 games with a knee injury sustained in late October.

He’s had plenty of time to study up on San Jose.

"Well, I know that since that game they’ve been on a bit of a roll," Stajan said. "We played a solid game there but they’re coming off three wins. We’ve got to be ready. It’s another challenge. They’re feeling it right now and we’ve got to make sure we keep doing what we’re doing."

The Sharks are set for some adjustments following the loss to the Flames nine days ago.

"They play pretty well defensively," Couture said. "They’re tight. Their goaltender played pretty well against us. They’re a good team. Their defense is active. They’ve got a lot of guys on the back end that can skate and their forwards are smart players, skilled players. They’re a tough challenge.

"They were a tough team to play against last year for us. We’ve always had a difficult time coming into this building and playing against this team. There’s so much parity in this team that every team is a good team so you’re never really surprised when you see a team in the standings near the top."

Calgary currently sits in third place in the Pacific Division and is six points ahead of the Sharks.

It makes the game a pivotal one if San Jose hopes to make up ground, according to coach Todd McLellan.

"Playoffs are too far away for us to begin to talk about them but realistically if we’re going to get there, we’re going to have to beat this team more often than we lose to them and we’re aware of that," McLellan said. "It won’t be a focal point in our locker room. It’s more about us making strides, taking small steps getting better as a team day-in, day-out. We’ve been lucky enough to string three together in all different ways: scoring a lot, preventing, coming-from-behind.

"We’d like to continue to do that here tonight and take it with us the rest of this trip."

Here are the projected lineups:


Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels

Tyler Kennedy - James Sheppard - Barclay Goodrow

Mike Brown - Andrew Desjardins - John Scott

Justin Braun - Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Brent Burns - Brenden Dillon

Scott Hannan - Matt Irwin

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

Scratched: Mirco Mueller, Tye McGinn

Injured: Troy Grosenick (upper body), Raffi Torres (knee), Matt Nieto (lower body)


Curtis Glencross - Sean Monahan - David Jones

Johnny Gaudreau - Josh Jooris - Jiri Hudler

Michael Ferland - Markus Granlund - Paul Byron

Brandon Bollig - Matt Stajan - Lance Bouma

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman

Ladislav Smid - Raphael Diaz

Karri Ramo

Jonas Hiller

Scracthed: Brian McGrattan, Sven Baertschi, Deryk Engelland

Injured: Sam Bennett (shoulder surgery), Mikael Backlund (abdomen), Joe Colborne (upper body), Mason Raymond (shoulder)

Status update: McLellan said Nieto is day-to-day and will not play. Goodrow will dress for Nieto after being scratched for the past three games…Calgary could dress McGrattan based on whom McLellan puts in San Jose’s lineup, according to Hartley. McGrattan has been a healthy scratch for seven straight games and 18 of the past 21.

Who’s hot: During a three-game point streak, Wingels has three goals and seven points…Wideman has two goals and five points during a three-game point streak. Both Monahan and Gaudreau have points in five straight games as well for the Flames.

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