THRASHERS (2-2-0) at SHARKS (1-0-1)
TV: CSN-CA (HD)
This is the only meeting of the 2010-11 season between these teams. Patrick Marleau
scored twice and added an assist in San Jose's 4-3 win in Atlanta on Oct. 24, 2009, the last time they faced off.
The Sharks haven't played in a week after opening the season with a split against the Blue Jackets in Stockholm, Sweden. It's safe to say the players are ready to get back out on the ice in a game situation, although they understand the lull in the schedule was necessary in order to rid themselves of any lingering jet lag from the trip.
"I think most guys are ready to play tomorrow," forward Ryane Clowe
told the San Jose Mercury News after Thursday's practice. "On the other hand, I guess they wanted to be sure, and I agree with that. The first three days felt awful. It wouldn't have been good to play."
It's the conclusion of a four-game road trip for Atlanta, which was in danger of dropping to 0-3 after a season-opening win over Washington on home ice. The Thrashers trailed the Ducks 4-2 in the third period Friday, but Anthony Stewart scored twice to complete his first career hat trick and tie the score. Then Nigel Dawes connected in the fourth round of the shootout, completing the comeback and giving them a thrilling 5-4 victory.
"We have a lot of veteran leadership, and we've got that never say die attitude out there," Stewart said.
Both games in Stockholm ended with 3-2 final scores, and San Jose actually captured three out of a possible four points since the game they lost to Columbus was in overtime. Since arriving back home, Todd McLellan and the Sharks' coaching staff have tried to keep the players sharp while also giving them time to re-acclimate themselves and their bodies to being on California time.
"We've had some tough practices, but they haven't been drawn out," forward Scott Nichol said. "Todd's done a good job of not letting it be stale every single practice. It all kind of comes together at the end of the week with what we need to do to win the game against Atlanta on Saturday."
Stewart's big night tied him for the Thrashers' goal-scoring lead with Chris Thorburn, who has now lit the lamp in three-straight games. … Joe Thornton
scored power-play goals in each of the Sharks' first two games, while Ryan Clowe is the team's points leader with 3 assists.
Atlanta defenseman Zach Bogosian missed Friday's game due to a shoulder injury, while goalie Ondrej Pavelec remains out with a concussion. … San Jose forward Jamal Mayers is day-to-day with an arm injury, and defenseman Derek Joslin is on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.
Stewart had 4 goals in 105 games over parts of four seasons for the Panthers and was scoreless in three games this season for the Thrashers prior to Friday. … Eleven different Sharks recorded at least 4 shots during the two games in Stockholm -- Marleau's 7 shots led the way.
Puck drop: Antti Niemi
was told Friday he'll get the start for San Jose in front of what figures to be a frenzied crowd at HP Pavilion. Niemi, who led Chicago to a Stanley Cup title in his rookie season and then became a free agent when the Blackhawks walked away from his arbitration award, stopped 32 of 34 shots in leading the Sharks to victory in their season opener. Antero Niittymaki
turned aside 25 of 28 shots the following day.