SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks defenseman Jason Demers expects to return to the lineup Friday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets at SAP Center after missing three games with a groin injury.
Demers returned to practice Tuesday but did not play Wednesday against the Dallas Stars.
"I kind of was ready to go against Dallas, but they thought it best just to get another practice in and get my legs under me a little bit more," Demers said after the Sharks' optional morning skate. "It's a big game tonight for sure, a tough test. Sure I would have loved to play against Dallas, but it was nice to get the extra day and just get another practice, get a little sharper."
Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he believes Demers will play against Columbus but left his options open.
"If there's any risk at all of Jason being sore or injured tonight, he won't play, but if there is no risk he will," McLellan said.
Second-line wing Matt Nieto will definitely miss the game with an injury to his left foot he suffered while blocking a shot in the second period against Dallas. Marty Havlat will likely move up one line and take Nieto's spot.
Forward John McCarthy was recalled Thursday from Worcester of the American Hockey League and will be in the lineup. McCarthy, who had one assist in 35 games with the Sharks this season, can play either center or wing, giving McLellan plenty of options for his third and fourth lines.
Backup goaltender Alex Stalock stopped 19 of 20 shots in the Sharks' 2-1 overtime victory against Dallas, but Antti Niemi was the first goaltender off the ice Friday and will return to the starting lineup.
Here are the projected lineups for Columbus and San Jose:
Nick Foligno - Artem Anisimov - R.J. Umberger
Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Nathan Horton
Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson
Derek MacKenzie - Mark Letestu - Corey Tropp
Fedor Tyutin - Jack Johnson
Ryan Murray - James Wisniewski
Nikita Nikitin - David Savard
Scratched: Cody Goloubef, Tim Erixon
Injured: Marian Gaborik (broken collarbone), Jared Boll (ankle surgery), Blake Comeau (sprained knee)
Notes: Only two Blue Jackets were on the ice for an optional morning skate: Gaborik, who is recovering from a broken collarbone, and Erixon, a likely healthy scratch. Bobrovsky started against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night. The last time the Blue Jackets had back-to-back games, Bobrovsky started the first game and McElhinney the second. The team has not revealed its goaltending plans for its game against San Jose.
Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns
Martin Havlat - Joe Pavelski - Tommy Wingels
James Sheppard - Bracken Kearns - John McCarthy
Andrew Desjardins - Adam Burish - Mike Brown
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Jason Demers
Brad Stuart - Justin Braun
Scott Hannan - Dan Boyle
Scratched: Matt Irwin
Injured: Matt Nieto (left foot), Logan Couture (hand surgery), Tomas Hertl (knee surgery), Raffi Torres (knee surgery), Tyler Kennedy (lower body)