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Reimer primed for debut with Sharks

Goaltender faces Canucks in first start since trade from Maple Leafs

by Eric Gilmore / NHL.com Correspondent

CANUCKS (24-27-12) at SHARKS (35-22-6)

TV: 10 p.m. ET; CSN-CA, CBC, SN, NHL.TV

SAN JOSE -- Backup goaltender James Reimer will make his debut for the San Jose Sharks on Saturday at SAP Center, when they try to defeat the Vancouver Canucks for a third straight time in seven days.

The Sharks acquired Reimer from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 27. He went 11-12-7 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in 32 games, including 29 starts, for Toronto. He hasn't appeared in a game since Feb. 23, when he allowed three goals on 26 shots in a 3-2 Toronto loss to the Nashville Predators.

"We all know what he can do," Sharks center Logan Couture said. "He's been around the league for a while. He obviously has not much to prove to us as players, but I'm sure he's going to want to make a good first impression on the fans. We're going to try and make him feel comfortable, play better, start better than we did the last couple games."

Reimer has played 207 career NHL games, all for the Maple Leafs.

"I've played a lot of games, but obviously you're excited to be with a new team," Reimer said. "I know what my game needs to be, so I'm just going to focus on doing that.

"I think the whole thing is you just want to play well. One game isn't going to make or break, but you just do what you have to do. You don't put too much pressure on yourself, you don't put unrealistic expectations. For me, just go out there and compete hard. If that happens, usually good things happen."

No. 1 goaltender Martin Jones started the previous 10 games for San Jose and went 7-2-1, including two victories against Vancouver and goaltender Ryan Miller. The Sharks trailed by a goal entering the third period each time, but rallied for victories.

Canucks backup goaltender Jacob Markstrom will start. He's 9-8-4 with a 2.60 GAA and .915 save percentage.

"We want Markstrom to get a little bit more time in the net going forward," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. "We'll just give him some more time. Miller's been great all year and he's played well. It's not that we're confusing the issue of who our No. 1 is. We just want to get Markstrom more time."

Markstrom, 26, has lost his past three starts but had a four-game winning streak before that stretch.

"If Coach wants me to play, I'm ready to play," Markstrom said. "That's how it is. All I can do is try to be as good and well prepared as possible."

Desjardins is expected to open with his usual lines against San Jose, but said third-line forward Jake Virtanen likely will get a chance to skate on the top line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin this season. Virtanen, 19, has three goals and two assists in his past six games. He had a goal and an assist Thursday in a 3-2 loss to San Jose, skating with center Markus Granlund and Sven Baertschi.

"It obviously would be an honor to play with those two," Virtanen said of the Sedins. "I played, I think, one game with them in preseason. It was a lot of fun. Shifts here and there, obviously. It would be awesome to play with those guys. Either way. If I'm playing with Sven and Markus, they're really good. We had a lot of good chemistry on that line."

Here are the projected lineups:

CANUCKS

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Emerson Etem

Brendan Gaunce - Bo Horvat - Linden Vey

Sven Baertschi - Markus Granlund - Jake Virtanen

Alexandre Burrows - Jared McCann - Derek Dorsett  

Ben Hutton - Christopher Tanev

Dan Hamhuis - Matt Bartkowski

Luca Sbisa - Alex Biega

Jacob Markstrom

Ryan Miller

Injured: Radim Vrbata (strained groin), Alexander Edler (fractured fibula), Brandon Sutter (fractured jaw), Jannik Hansen (rib)

Scratched: Yannick Weber

SHARKS

Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Nick Spaling - Logan Couture - Joonas Donskoi

Matt Nieto - Patrick Marleau - Joel Ward

Micheal Haley - Chris Tierney - Dainius Zubrus

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon - Roman Polak

James Reimer

Martin Jones

Injured: Tommy Wingels (shoulder sprain), Melker Karlsson (undisclosed), Matt Tennyson (head)

Scratched: None

Status update: Vrbata took part in the morning skate but is expected to miss his fifth straight game. "He's close," Desjardins said. "I don't think he'll be ready today but he should be ready for the L.A. game." Vancouver plays the Kings on Monday. ... Wingels and Karlsson skated again Saturday morning, but aren't ready to return to the lineup. Wingels will miss his eighth straight game and Karlsson his second straight.

Who's hot: Thornton has five points over his past three games and has a point in 22 of his past 25 games. ... Burns has two goals and three assists in his past two games. ... Daniel Sedin has two goals in his past three games.

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