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Sharks host new Pacific Division rival Flames

by Matthew Mankiewich /

FLAMES (3-1-2) at SHARKS (6-0-1)


Season series: Opening matchup of five for the Pacific Division rivals. Last season, the San Jose Sharks took two of three, one at home and one of two at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Big story: While the Sharks' fast start is the talk of the NHL, the Calgary Flames haven't exactly stalled out of the gate themselves, earning points in all but one game. The Pacific Division, though, is running true to form, the top six teams separated by just five points.

Team Scope:

Flames: One player who certainly has broken out from the crowd is 2013 first-round pick Sean Monahan. The No. 6 selection leads the Flames with four goals and scored in four successive games. His ice time is climbing and he's becoming more and more of a go-to guy offensively.

However, the 19-year-old is getting closer to his ninth game of the season, after which the Flames will have to decide whether to keep him on the roster or send him back to the Ottawa 67's not only for more seasoning, but also to keep his entry-level contract from kicking in; that happens if he plays in a 10th game.

"He's a monster player," coach Bob Hartley said after Monahan scored the game-winner in the Flames' 3-2 win against the New Jersey Devils last Friday. "He knows where to get open, plus every time I saw him with the puck, it seems to find the back of the net. You call this a gifted player. He has that touch. He's a very special young player for us."

Sharks: They weren't going to go 82-0-0. That doesn't mean the Sharks walked away from their 4-3 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday with any satisfaction. Quite the opposite, as visiting San Jose blew three leads to the home team.

"It's tough, especially when you score a goal and they come back and score on the next shift," center Joe Thornton said. "Those are the ones you want to bear down and make sure they don't score. Just try to continue the momentum and we didn't do that twice. So, we'll address it and be better in that aspect."

"We're disappointed we didn't get the two points. We probably didn't play well enough," coach Todd McLellan said. "We weren't as crisp and as fast as we have been earlier. You've got to give [the Stars] full marks. They played a fast, hard game."

Who's hot: Monahan may be grabbing the headlines, but forward Jiri Hudler has been setting the pace offensively, leading the Flames with eight points and picking up at least one in every game so far. … Sharks rookie sensation Tomas Hertl continues to lead the NHL with seven goals, while he, Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture are among the League leaders with nine points apiece. Goalie Antti Niemi shares the League lead in wins with Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins; each has six.

Injury report: Flames forwards Matt Stajan (leg), Michael Cammalleri (hand) and David Jones (upper body) remain out indefinitely, the latter two are still on injured reserve. … Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle (neck) missed Thursday's game, while forward Adam Burish is out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery on Thursday. He's on injured reserve.

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