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Sharks hoping to solve Flyers' Mason

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks will try to snap out of their goal-scoring slump Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers and red-hot goaltender Steve Mason.

The Sharks ended a three-game losing streak Saturday with a 2-1 shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks, but they've scored two goals in regulation in their past four games and have been shut out twice.

Mason has shutouts in two of his past three games, making 33 saves in a 5-0 victory Jan. 28 against the Detroit Red Wings and 35 saves in a 2-0 win Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings.

"Every night's a good challenge obviously, but when goalies are playing well and feeling strong, getting a couple shutouts, you got to put a little extra emphasis in getting in front and getting those shots through and making sure life's a little bit harder for him to find those pucks in traffic," Sharks forward Patrick Marleau said.

Mason had been struggling before his recent surge; during a six-game stretch he had allowed 22 goals on 148 shots. He went 1-3-1 with an .851 save percentage in that span.

"There are obviously ups and downs during the entire season," Mason said, "but it's a matter of how you come out of it. You can't let a couple of negative things affect you."

Sharks top-line center Joe Thornton has gone a season-long four games without a point, and first-line right wing Brent Burns has gone six games without a point and 13 without a goal, both season-long skids.

"We're getting our chances," Thornton said. "Just finish. Just put some finish on the game. I've been telling [Burns], we don't need to press. We're getting good chances. Just stick with it and we'll be OK."

Burns has 20 shots on goal in his past three games and 26 in his past six games.

Sharks forward Joe Pavelski was named the NHL's Third Star for January after scoring a League-leading 12 goals in 15 games that month, but he has just one goal in his past five games.

The Sharks have defeated Philadelphia seven straight times at SAP Center. The Flyers haven't won at San Jose since Nov. 5, 1999. Overall the Flyers have a 13-game winless skid against San Jose, going 0-8-2-3, with their last victory coming Dec. 12, 2000.

"We broke a couple streaks already this year, so why not another one?" Mason said.

The Flyers will be without defenseman Kimmo Timonen (bruised left foot) for a second straight game. He skated Monday morning and is likely to return Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche. The 38-year-old is second among the team's defensemen in average ice time per game at 20:43.

Sharks forward Tyler Kennedy, who missed the past two games with a lower-body injury, skated Monday morning and could return to the lineup.

"I feel a lot better [Monday], that's for sure," Kennedy said. "We'll see how it feels [Monday] during the day then go from there."

Sharks defenseman Jason Demers (lower body) didn't skate Monday morning and will miss his second straight game. The Sharks recalled defenseman Matt Tennyson from Worcester of the American Hockey League, but he likely will be a healthy scratch.

Here are the projected lineups for Philadelphia and San Jose:


Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Vincent Lecavalier - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds

Steve Downie - Sean Couturier - Matt Read

Michael Raffl - Adam Hall - Zac Rinaldo

Mark Streit - Andrej Meszaros

Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossman

Luke Schenn - Erik Gustafsson

Steve Mason

Ray Emery

Scratched: Hal Gill, Jay Rosehill

Injured: Kimmo Timonen (bruised left foot)


Matt Nieto - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns

Patrick Marleau - Joe Pavelski - Tommy Wingels

James Sheppard - Bracken Kearns - Martin Havlat

Tyler Kennedy - Andrew Desjardins - Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle

Scott Hannan - Brad Stuart

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

Scratched: Matt Tennyson, Eriah Hayes

Injured: Logan Couture (hand surgery), Tomas Hertl (knee surgery), Raffi Torres (knee surgery) Adam Burish (back surgery), Jason Demers (lower body)

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