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Sharks, Jets battle for playoff positioning in West

by Patrick Williams / NHL.com

SHARKS (20-14-5) at JETS (20-12-7)

TV: TVA SPORTS, CSN-CA, TSN3

WINNIPEG -- San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan laid out some firm expectations for his team when it faces the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.

Coming off a 7-2 home loss against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, the Sharks are 1-3-1 in their past five games. The slump has followed a stretch in which San Jose went 9-1-0.

"I want to see a better start, [and] I want to see a higher commitment level to the team game and then to the individual game," McLellan said after the morning skate Monday. "Our special teams have to get better. When you go down the list, there is a lot to tick off."

The game Monday begins a three-game trip through the Central Division for the Sharks, who will be without center Joe Thornton. San Jose placed Thornton on injured reserve Sunday with an upper-body injury after he did not dress Saturday.

The Sharks and Jets each hold a Stanley Cup Playoff wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Winnipeg has 47 points and San Jose has 45.

"It is never an easy night being in the Western Conference," Sharks center Logan Couture said. "We [need] to play a lot better if we're going to make it to where we think we should be in the playoffs."

McLellan changed all four of his forward lines and two of his three defensive pairings for Monday. Among the changes, left wing Barclay Goodrow will move from the third line to the first line with center Patrick Marleau and right wing Tommy Wingels.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Brenden Dillon changed partners on the blue line. Vlasic will pair with Brent Burns and Dillon will skate with Justin Braun. Left wing John Scott will return from his four-game suspension and skate on the fourth line.

After the morning skate, San Jose recalled center Freddie Hamilton from Worcester of the American Hockey League. The 23-year-old, who played 13 games with San Jose last season, leads Worcester with 21 points (six goals, 15 assists). It is not known whether Hamilton will arrive in Winnipeg in time for the game.

Hamilton joins San Jose after the Sharks assigned center Micheal Haley to Worcester on Sunday.

Jets coach Paul Maurice delivered more injury news after the morning skate for a defense already missing four regulars. Grant Clitsome (upper body) will not play Monday and is "more into a week or two before we will have him back," Maurice said.

"We're used to it by now, I guess," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said of the injuries. "We've got a lot of guys in here capable of stepping in. Everybody knows what is expected."

Defenseman Julien Brouillette will replace Clitsome in the lineup. Brouillette, 28, has played 10 NHL games and hasn't dressed for a game at any level since Nov. 30 with St. John's of the AHL. Brouillette will skate with Adam Pardy and Jay Harrison will be with Paul Postma.

The Jets recalled Keaton Ellerby from St. John's on Monday. Ellerby, who was injured and hasn't played since Nov. 19 with St. John's, played 51 games last season with the Jets.

Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi will start Monday. Maurice will start rookie goaltender Michael Hutchinson, who has started five of the past six games in perhaps slowly taking over the number-one job from incumbent Ondrej Pavelec.

Here are the projected lineups:

SHARKS

Barclay Goodrow - Patrick Marleau - Tommy Wingels

Melker Karlsson - Logan Couture - Joe Pavelski

Tomas Hertl - James Sheppard- Matt Nieto

John Scott - Andrew Desjardins - Jamie McGinn

Brenden Dillon - Justin Braun

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brent Burns

Scott Hannan - Matt Tennyson

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

Scratched: Freddie Hamilton, Matt Irwin

Injured: Mike Brown (lower body), Tyler Kennedy (shoulder), Joe Thornton (upper body), Raffi Torres (knee)

JETS

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Michael Frolik

TJ Galiardi - Adam Lowry - Matt Halischuk

Chris Thorburn - Jim Slater - Anthony Peluso

Ben Chiarot - Dustin Byfuglien

Jay Harrison - Paul Postma

Adam Pardy - Julien Brouillette

Michael Hutchinson

Ondrej Pavelec

Scratched: Patrice Cormier, Keaton Ellerby

Injured: Zach Bogosian (lower body), Grant Clitsome (upper body), Toby Enstrom (lower body), Evander Kane (lower body), Mark Stuart (lower body), Jacob Trouba (upper body)

Status report: Bogosian, who has not played since Dec. 3, participated in the morning skate. He will not dress Monday, but Maurice said that he is a possibility to play on Winnipeg's upcoming three-game road trip this week… Ellerby will not dress Monday. He is working to regain his game conditioning…Winnipeg also placed Kane (lower body) on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 28. Kane is not expected to return until February… Clitsome will undergo more medical testing.

Who's hot: Little has a six-game points streak (three goals, six assists). Wheeler, Little's right wing on the first line, has a five-game points streak (two goals, four assists).

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