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Preview: Sharks at Oilers

Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic returns to San Jose lineup; Edmonton in 'uncharted waters'

by Derek Van Diest / NHL.com Correspondent

SHARKS (24-14-2) at OILERS (21-14-7) 

9 p.m. ET; SNW, CSN-CA, NHL.TV 

 

Sharks team scope

San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic is expected to play after being hit in the face with a puck against the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 2. Vlasic, who has missed the past four games, took part in an optional morning skate Tuesday. "It was unlucky, it could have happened to anybody," Vlasic said. "It's your turn to block and you get it in the face, it's not something you want to get. I was fortunate enough not to lose any teeth and I'm glad I'm feeling better today. The swelling is going down. Until the nerves heal, there will still be some pain." San Jose ended a three-game losing streak with a 6-3 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. The Sharks begin a two-game Alberta road trip tied for first place with the Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division and one point ahead of the Edmonton Oilers. "When you get to that halfway mark you start thinking a little bit more about positioning," center Joe Pavelski said. "These guys have played well, they gave us a good game the other night [3-2 overtime win on Dec. 23], so it'll be competitive. We understand the situation in the standings. Everyone is so close together, so any time you can get a couple of points, it's important." Forward Patrick Marleau will play his 1,452 NHL game, passing Teemu Selanne (1,451) for 24th place on the all-time list. 

 

Oilers team scope

The Oilers, who haven't made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2006, are competing for first place in the Pacific. "We're past the halfway mark and we're into January now and this is uncharted waters for our team," coach Todd McLellan said. "We're going to hear this question numerous times playing against our divisional opponents and our conference opponents, we will start the year playing four-point games and it's new for us. We're not going to make a big deal about it, but we have to play better than we did in San Jose to have a chance to win." Forward Patrick Maroon leads the Oilers with 16 goals. He has five goals in his past three games playing on the top line with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. "You don't usually see a guy that big with such soft hands that can get up and down the ice well," McDavid said. "He's definitely feeling good about himself, so hopefully, we can keep that going." Edmonton won two of four games (2-2-0) on its recent road trip. The game against San Jose is the first of a six-game homestand.

 

Sharks projected lineup 

Timo Meier -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski 

Kevin Labanc -- Logan Couture -- Joonas Donskoi 

Patrick Marleau -- Chris Tierney -- Joel Ward 

Melker Karlsson -- Mikkel Boedker -- Tommy Wingels 

Paul Martin -- Brent Burns 

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun 

Brenden Dillon -- Dylan DeMelo 

Martin Jones 

Aaron Dell 

Scratched: Mirco Mueller, Tommy Wingels

Injured: Tomas Hertl (knee), David Schlemko (upper body)

 

Oilers projected lineup 

Patrick Maroon -- Connor McDavid -- Leon Draisaitl 

Milan Lucic -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Jordan Eberle 

Benoit Pouliot -- Drake Caggiula -- Zack Kassian 

Matt Hendricks -- Mark Letestu -- Anton Lander 

Kris Russell -- Adam Larsson 

Andrej Sekera -- Matthew Benning 

Oscar Klefbom -- Eric Gryba 

Cam Talbot 

Jonas Gustavsson

Scratched: Anton Slepyshev, Brandon Davidson 

Injured: Iiro Pakarinen (knee), Andrew Ference (hip), Darnell Nurse (foot), Tyler Pitlick (knee)

 

Status report 

Mueller will sit out with Vlasic returning to the lineup. Vlasic is expected to play with Braun on the Sharks second defensive pairing. … Eberle was moved up to the Oilers second line to play with Lucic and Nugent-Hopkins after being demoted to the third line against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday … The Oilers assigned forward Jesse Puljujarvi to Bakersfield of the American Hockey League on Monday and recalled Slepyshev. Puljujarvi, chosen with the No. 4 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, has one goal and seven assists in 28 games this season. … Gustavsson cleared waivers and will back up Talbot. 

 

Who's hot

Marleau has three goals and three assists in his past five games .… Pavelski has five goals and five assists in his past nine games. … Ward has one goal and three assists in his past two games. McDavid has five assists in his past three games.

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