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Sharks at Penguins preview

San Jose 2-9-2 in past 13 games; Galchenyuk to take place of injured Guentzel on Pittsburgh top line

by Wes Crosby / Independent Correspondent

SHARKS (17-21-3) at PENGUINS (24-11-4)



The Game

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

Aaron Dell

Martin Jones

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

Tristan Jarry

Matt Murray

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)


Status report

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.


Stat pack

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.

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