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Preview: Sharks at Panthers

Forward Jussi Jokinen returns to Florida lineup; goaltender James Reimer starts for San Jose against former team

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / Staff Writer

SHARKS (7-6-0) at PANTHERS (6-6-1)

7:30 p.m. ET; FS-F, CSN-CA, NHL.TV


Sharks team scope

The San Jose Sharks play the second game of a six-game road trip. They defeated the Washington Capitals 3-0 on Tuesday to end a three-game losing streak. The Sharks are looking for more offense from forward Logan Couture, who has no goals and three assists in his past 10 games. San Jose is tied for 25th in the NHL with 2.31 goals per game; last season, when the Sharks reached the Stanley Cup Final, they averaged 2.89 goals per game, which ranked fourth. "Anytime you've got goaltending like [Roberto] Luongo and [James] Reimer, you know you're going to have to earn your goals," coach Peter DeBoer said. San Jose will use the same lineup as it did against Washington, with left wing Joel Ward on a line with center Joe Thornton and right wing Joe Pavelski. "I thought [Ward] did a good job," DeBoer said. "They want to play with guys that are similar to them, that get in, that turn pucks over, that hang onto the puck, that are heavy, that are hard. [Ward] is all those things."


Panthers team scope

Forward Jussi Jokinen will return to the Florida Panthers lineup after missing nine games with a knee injury he sustained during the World Cup of Hockey 2016. Jokinen, who has not played since Oct. 20, skated with center Vincent Trocheck and right wing Reilly Smith during practice Wednesday. He has two assists in four games this season, after he had 60 points (18 goals, 42 assists) last season. "It's good to get one guy back," coach Gerard Gallant said. "Hopefully we can stay healthy and then we get [other players] coming back soon. One guy at a time." Defenseman Dylan McIrath joined the Panthers on Thursday, after a trade with the New York Rangers for defenseman Steven Kampfer and a conditional seventh-round draft choice in the 2018 NHL Draft. "I thought it was necessary to add a little size, a little grit, to our back end," Panthers president of hockey operations Dale Tallon said. "He didn't play a lot in the last year and a half with the Rangers, but I like what he brings to the table: He brings toughness and he plays his position well. Good first pass. He'll fit in nicely." McIlrath will not play against the Sharks.


Sharks projected lineup

Joel Ward -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski

Kevin Labanc -- Logan Couture -- Joonas Donskoi

Patrick Marleau -- Tomas Hertl -- Mikkel Boedker  

Melker Karlsson -- Chris Tierney -- Tommy Wingels

Paul Martin -- Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon -- David Schlemko

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratched: Dylan DeMelo , Micheal Haley , Matt Nieto

Injured: None


Panthers projected lineup

Jonathan Marchessault - Aleksander Barkov - Jaromir Jagr

Jussi Jokinen - Vincent Trocheck - Reilly Smith

Colton Sceviour - Denis Malgin - Kyle Rau

Greg McKegg - Derek MacKenzie - Shane Harper

Keith Yandle - Aaron Ekblad

Michael Matheson - Jason Demers

Mark Pysyk - Alex Petrovic

James Reimer

Roberto Luongo

Scratched: Shawn Thornton, Jared McCann, Dylan McIlrath

Injured: Jonathan Huberdeau (Achilles), Nick Bjugstad (hand)


Status report

Jagr, who has had cramping in each of the past two games, is expected to play. He missed the end of each of those games, but practiced fully on Wednesday. … Bjugstad skated before the Panthers morning skate, and could return to the Panthers next week. … Goaltender James Reimer will start against his former team. Reimer was traded to the Sharks by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 27, playing eight regular season games for San Jose before signing with the Panthers as a free agent on July 1. "Any time you go through a playoffs like that, it's a fun time, it's a special time, it's an exciting time," Reimer said. "It'll be fun to play these guys." … Labanc remains in the lineup for the Sharks for his second career NHL game after making his debut on Tuesday against the Capitals. "I sat down with him this morning. I thought he hounded the puck well, he pursued it, he's tenacious on it, he's hard on it," DeBoer said.


Who's hot

Trocheck has three goals and two assists in his past five games. … The Panthers are 5-2-0 at BB&T Center this season. … Marchessault has 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 13 games this season for his new team. "It's easy to trust him so far," Gallant said. "He's a dangerous hockey player." … Burns, who has five goals and seven assists, leads all defensemen in points (12), and also leads all NHL skaters in shots on goal with 71 this season. That's 13 more than St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko and Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek, who each have 58.

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