SHARKS (11-8-0) at PENGUINS (12-7-0)
TV: CSN-CA, ROOT
PITTSBURGH – San Jose Sharks coach Peter DeBoer will miss the game Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center because of a personal matter.
Assistant coaches Steve Spott, Bob Boughner, and Johan Hedberg will handle the coaching duties for the Sharks (11-8-0, 22 points), who enter the game winners of four straight and in second place in the Pacific Division. Spott said he will work with the forwards while Boughner focuses on the defensemen and Hedberg comes down from the press box to be on a headset with video coach Dan Darrow.
"Nothing will change with regards to our responsibilities," Spott said.
Forward Melker Karlsson said he doesn't expect a drop-off without DeBoer.
"We know what to do out there and we have a great staff taking care of that, I think," Karlsson said. "It's not going to change too much, but Pete is a great guy. He's great to have back there, but the other guys will do a great job."
Sharks defenseman Paul Martin will play against the Penguins for the first time in six years. Last season, his fifth in Pittsburgh, Martin became arguably the Penguins' most reliable defenseman when he played 74 games while defensemen Olli Maatta, Kris Letang, Christian Ehrhoff and Derrick Pouliot each sustained season-ending injuries.
"It's good to be back," Martin said. "I think you know what you're going to get. They have a lot of talented guys who can hurt you if you turn the puck over."
In 297 games played in Pittsburgh, Martin scored had 17 goals 109 points. He has scored 10 points and two goals in 36 games against the Penguins, who are expected to play a video tribute sometime during the game Saturday.
"He did everything well," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "He was just so consistent. He skated well, made a good first pass, defending. He had a good stick. He was always in good position. Even when we had guys out, he was able to run the power play. He did everything. He was a really big part of our team."
Martin last played against the Penguins on March 17, 2010, when he scored a goal in the first period of the New Jersey Devils' 5-2 win.
Sharks forward Patrick Marleau will again try to become the 83rd NHL player to reach 1,000 career points. Marleau, selected with the second pick of the 1997 NHL Draft, failed to score in San Jose's 1-0 overtime win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday after scoring one goal in each of his previous two games.
Pittsburgh will try to keep Marleau from reaching that milestone with the same defensive pairings used in its 4-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. The Penguins defense has struggled to close out its past two wins by allowing the Minnesota Wild and Avalanche to pull within one-goal during the third period, but coach Mike Johnston said he has been impressed with its performance.
"We like the way our guys played the other night 5-on-5," Johnston said. "I thought they kept the chances down. It was a tough matchup for [Brian Dumoulin and Ben Lovejoy] playing against one of the better lines in the League, but I thought they handled it really well."
Here are the projected lineups:
Melker Karlsson – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Matthew Nieto – Patrick Marleau – Joel Ward
Joonas Donskoi – Tomas Hertl – Tommy Wingels
Micheal Haley – Chris Tierney – Mike Brown
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Mirco Mueller
Injured: Logan Couture (leg)
Scratched: Nikolay Goldobin, Matt Tennyson
Pascal Dupuis – Sidney Crosby – Patric Hornqvist
David Perron – Evgeni Malkin – Phil Kessel
Chris Kunitz – Nick Bonino – Beau Bennett
Sergei Plotnikov – Matt Cullen – Eric Fehr
Rob Scuderi – Kris Letang
Brian Dumoulin – Ben Lovejoy
Ian Cole – Adam Clendening
Injured: Olli Maatta (upper body), Bryan Rust (undisclosed)
Scratched: David Warsofsky, Daniel Sprong
Status report: Letang, Hornqvist and Cullen did not practice Friday, but each participated in Pittsburgh's morning skate Saturday. Letang will play with defenseman Rob Scuderi on the Penguins' top pairing for a second consecutive game. … Couture (leg) skated Saturday. Spott said having Couture on the ice is a shot of adrenaline for San Jose and hopes he can return soon.
Who's hot: Malkin has scored five points and three goals in his past two games. He surpassed Kessel for the Penguins lead in goals when he scored his seventh of the season in the second period against Colorado on Thursday … Karlsson has scored four points and three goals in five games since being recalled from the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League on Nov. 9. Karlsson missed training camp after playing with a lower-body injury. He appeared in 53 NHL games last season.