SHARKS (17-21-3) at PENGUINS (24-11-4)
7 p.m. ET; ATTSN-PT, NBCSCA, NHL.TV
Alex Galchenyuk is expected to replace the injured Jake Guentzel at left wing on the Pittsburgh Penguins first line when they host the San Jose Sharks at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday.
Guentzel is expected to miss 4-6 months after undergoing shoulder surgery Tuesday; he was injured at 6:55 of the third period during a 5-2 win against the Ottawa Senators on Monday, when he fell into the boards shortly after scoring a goal that gave him his 200th NHL point.
Pittsburgh has won three straight, is 7-1-0 in its past eight and 10-2-0 in its past 12.
Melker Karlsson could return for the Sharks, 2-9-2 in their past 13 games after going 11-2-0 in their previous 13. The forward missed one game after taking a puck to the head during a 6-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
Players to watch
Sharks forward Tomas Hertl has been held without a goal in five straight games after scoring at least one in each of his previous three from Dec. 12-17.
Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in his past nine games.
They said it
"We're still [nine points out of a Stanley Cup Playoff spot]. We have half a season. We can't keep saying that." -- Sharks coach Bob Boughner
"[Guentzel is] not an easy guy to replace, but we've lost some tough guys to replace here throughout the course of this whole season." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan
Sharks projected lineup
Tomas Hertl -- Logan Couture -- Kevin Labanc
Evander Kane -- Barclay Goodrow -- Timo Meier
Marcus Sorensen -- Joe Thornton -- Patrick Marleau
Melker Karlsson -- Joel Kellman -- Stefan Noesen
Brenden Dillon -- Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Erik Karlsson
Radim Simek -- Mario Ferraro
Scratched: Tim Heed, Joachim Blichfeld, Antti Suomela
Injured: Dalton Prout (upper body)
Penguins projected lineup
Alex Galchenyuk -- Evgeni Malkin -- Bryan Rust
Dominik Simon -- Jared McCann -- Patric Hornqvist
Zach Aston-Reese -- Teddy Blueger -- Brandon Tanev
Dominik Kahun -- Joseph Blandisi -- Sam Lafferty
Jack Johnson -- Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson -- John Marino
Juuso Riikola -- Chad Ruhwedel
Scratched: Kevin Czuczman
Injured: Sidney Crosby (core muscle surgery), Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery), Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery), Justin Schultz (lower body), Jake Guentzel (shoulder surgery)
Dell is expected to start for San Jose after Jones allowed one goal on 22 shots in a 2-0 loss at the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday. ... The Penguins did not hold a morning skate.
Thornton needs one assist to pass Adam Oates (1,079) for sole possession of seventh place on the NHL all-time list. ... Thornton, Marleau and Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara are expected to become the 12th, 13th and 14th players to play at least one NHL game in four different decades on Thursday. ... Rust has 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in his past 10 games. … Pittsburgh is 6-2-2 in its past 10 home games against San Jose.