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Sharks host Jets, seek third straight win

San Jose trails Los Angeles by three points for second place in Pacific Division

by Eric Gilmore / NHL.com Correspondent

JETS (33-39-8) at SHARKS (45-29-6)

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET; TSN3, CSN-CA+, NHL.TV

SAN JOSE -- Martin Jones will be in net for the San Jose Sharks against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday at SAP Center.

The Sharks (96 points) trail the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings by three points in the Pacific Division. Anaheim has a game in hand on the Sharks and Kings.

"It definitely feels a little different this time of year, but we still have a chance to catch L.A. and or Anaheim and get home ice," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "That's where our concentration lies. We want to win this game. That's the bottom line. We're still playing for something here."

Jones was on the bench for back-to-back games for the first time all season as James Reimer started in road victories against the Nashville Predators (3-2 on Saturday) and Minnesota Wild (3-0 on Tuesday).

DeBoer said he wants Jones to continue playing the way he has down the stretch. Jones, who is 36-22-4 with a 2.26 goals-against average and .918 save percentage this season, has allowed two goals or less in 11 of his past 13 starts.

"More of the same," DeBoer said. "He's been excellent, and I think he's really found another level the second half. Just get him in a good place heading into the playoffs."

Fourth-line center Chris Tierney returns to the lineup after missing one game with an undisclosed injury. Dainius Zubrus will be a healthy scratch.

Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (knee) and forward Matt Nieto (broken knuckle) will miss their 11th straight games, and could miss the regular-season finale against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday, according to DeBoer.

"Neither is in [Thursday], but both are much closer," he said. "Both skated [Wednesday]. Looking good. ... For me that's not a necessity that they play Saturday. In a perfect world it would be nice, but that's not going to be the decision factor."

The Sharks have lost four of their past five home games and are 17-19-3 at home compared to 28-10-3 on the road. San Jose lost 4-1 to the Jets at home Jan. 2. 

"Obviously we haven't played the way we're capable of in our home building," center Logan Couture said. "We want to change that and have some confidence going into the playoffs with these two games here."

The Jets, who will finish last in the Central Division, are coming off a 2-1 overtime victory against the Ducks on Tuesday at Honda Center. The Jets have won two straight games and are 4-2-2 in their past eight.

"It's been a really trying year," forward Blake Wheeler said. "You learn a lot about people when you go through things like this. We've played some teams that are in similar situations as us and have looked worse off than we do. I think there's excitement knowing we were able to stick with it and grind it out, and we're just trying to take whatever we can out of this year because we know it's going to come to an end in a few days."

Here are the projected lineups:

JETS

Nikolaj Ehlers - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler

Marko Dano - Alexander Burmistrov - Drew Stafford

Nic Petan - Andrew Copp - Joel Armia

Brandon Tanev - Adam Lowry - Chris Thorburn  

Ben Chiarot - Dustin Byfuglien

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Julian Melchior - Paul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec

Michael Hutchinson

Injured: Grant Clitsome (back), Bryan Little (vertebrae), Anthony Peluso (shoulder), JC Lipon (undisclosed), Mathieu Perreault (concussion), Toby Enstrom (knee), Tyler Myers (knees)

Scratched: Matt Hallischuk, Brenden Kichton

SHARKS

Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Joonas Donskoi - Logan Couture - Joel Ward

Melker Karlsson - Patrick Marleau - Tommy Wingels

Micheal Haley - Chris Tierney - Nick Spaling

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Dylan DeMelo - Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon - Roman Polak

Martin Jones

James Reimer

Injured: Marc-Edouard Vlasic (knee), Matt Nieto (broken knuckle), Matt Tennyson (concussion)

Scratched: Danius Zubrus

Status update: Pavelec starts against San Jose, and Hutchinson will start against the Kings on Saturday at Staples Center in Winnipeg's season finale, coach Paul Maurice said. ... The Jets will use the same lineup, other than the goalie, they used against the Ducks. ... Tierney, who had some minor bumps and bruises, said he feels rejuvenated after missing one game then having an off day.

Who's hot: Thornton has a five-game point streak with one goal and six assists. He ranks fifth in the NHL in points (79) and second in assists (61). ... Burns leads all NHL defensemen with 27 goals and ranks second with 74 points. ... Wheeler extended his point streak to nine games Tuesday when he scored the game-winning goal in overtime. He has six goals and six assists during that span. ... Scheifele has an eight-game point streak (4-7-11).

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