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Sharks can clinch; McLellan wants focus on Flames

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- The San Jose Sharks hope to clinch a 10th consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff berth when they play the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday.

The Sharks need a single point against the Flames to earn their way in.

San Jose would also clinch if: the Phoenix Coyotes lose to the New York Rangers in regulation; the Winnipeg Jets defeat the Dallas Stars in regulation; or both the Coyotes and Stars lose in overtime or a shootout.

"You like to see that little 'x' beside your name in the standings," Sharks forward Patrick Marleau said. "We need to play well, but we also need to get that next win to get that."

More importantly, a win against the Flames would give the Sharks some breathing room over the idle Anaheim Ducks. San Jose has a one-point lead over the Ducks in the Pacific Division. Anaheim holds a game at hand entering Monday.

Staying ahead of the Ducks and earning the division crown has the Sharks' attention, center Joe Thornton admitted.

"It's all about us and Anaheim right now," he said. "We've got to continue to grab as many points as we can. They've got one game at hand on us. We've got one point up on them. It's going to be a good battle right to the finish."

But neither guaranteeing a trip into the postseason nor their battle with the Ducks for the top spot in the Pacific Division is where coach Todd McLellan expects the Sharks' focus to be at puck drop.

He wants their attention on the Flames.

"It's more the commitment level to beating a team that works extremely hard," McLellan said. "That's Calgary's mantra right now. That's their identity. They've been able to score a lot of goals lately, and it's through hard work and commitment.

"We have to put the work in and then rely on the results to either move us up or down in the standings. I hope the focus is on the game and the action that's going to take place between minutes one and 60 or 65 versus what the standings might look like after."

The previous game between the Flames and Sharks saw Calgary take a 4-1 win on Jan. 30 at Scotiabank Saddledome. The loss, coupled with a 3-0 defeat to the Edmonton Oilers a night prior, marks the last time the Sharks have lost back-to-back games. They're 12-3-2 since.

The Flames have also been hot of late.

Calgary's offense has been the most potent since the passing of the NHL Trade Deadline, scoring 39 goals in 10 games following an 8-1 win against the Oilers on Saturday. The Boston Bruins sit second with 36.

With that run, Thornton isn't about to look past the Flames, who sit 26th overall in the League.

"You can't," Thornton said. "You've got to really concentrate on day-to-day. We're here tonight. We want to get two points tonight. We'll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow."

Here are the projected lineups when the Sharks visit Calgary on Monday:


Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Matt Nieto

Tommy Wingels - James Sheppard - Marty Havlat

Tyler Kennedy - Andrew Desjardins - Adam Burish

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Jason Demers

Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle

Brad Stuart - Justin Braun

Alex Stalock

Antti Niemi

Scratched: Mike Brown, Matt Tennyson, Scott Hannan

Injured: Tomas Hertl (knee), Raffi Torres (knee)


Curtis Glencross - Matt Stajan - Jiri Hudler

Mike Cammalleri - Mikael Backlund - Paul Byron

Kenny Agostino - Sean Monahan - Joe Colborne

Kevin Westgarth - Lance Bouma - Brian McGrattan

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Kris Russell - Chris Butler

Ladislav Smid - Tyler Wotherspoon

Karri Ramo

Joey MacDonald

Scratched: Ben Hanowski, TJ Galiardi

Injured: David Jones (upper body), Markus Granlund (upper body), Dennis Wideman (upper body)

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