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Slumping Sharks seek consistency against Capitals

by Eric Gilmore

CAPITALS (28-16-10) at SHARKS (28-20-7)

TV: NBCSN, SN

SAN JOSE -- After losing back-to-back games, the San Jose Sharks will try to salvage a win in the finale of their three-game homestand against the Washington Capitals at SAP Center on Wednesday (10:30 ET; NBCSN, SN).

The Sharks are 1-3-1 in their past five games and are coming off a 4-1 loss Monday against the Calgary Flames that dropoped them from second to third place in the Pacific Division.

"I think enough's enough in terms of our inconsistent play," Sharks forward Tommy Wingels said. "We can't keep riding this roller coaster the rest of the year because before you know it the season will be wasted away, and we'll look back on it and not be happy missing the playoffs. We got to step it up and find a way to start winning consistently."

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he wants to see a strong 60-minute game from his team.

"The win takes care of itself if you establish a 60-minute game and get to an intensity level that is above par," McLellan said. "We have to get to that point. When you're short-staffed, you've got to take your game up, and I'm not sure that we've done that as a group. We've probably slipped a little bit, and as a result we're on the losing end of games more than we are on the winning end."

The Sharks will be without injured defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (upper body), their top defenseman, for a third straight game. Defenseman Justin Braun (broken left hand), who spent much of the season skating with Vlasic, will miss his ninth straight game. The Sharks have seven healthy defensemen, but the seventh is rookie Dylan DeMelo, who has yet to make his NHL debut.

That's bad news for the Sharks in a game against the high-powered Capitals and Alex Ovechkin, who's tied for the NHL lead with 33 goals.

The Sharks had an optional skate, but fourth-line forwards Tyler Kennedy and Andrew Desjardins stayed late on the ice and skated hard. It appears as if they'll come out of the lineup and be replaced by John Scott and Barclay Goodrow.

Here are the projected lineups:

CAPITALS

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Marcus Johansson

Jason Chimera - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Troy Brouwer

Brooks Laich - Eric Fehr - Joel Ward

Andre Burakovsky - Michael Latta - Jay Beagle

Brooks Orpik - John Carlson

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Jack Hillen - Mike Green

Braden Holtby

Justin Peters

Scratched: Tom Wilson, Aaron Volpatti, Steve Oleksy

Injured: Dmitry Orlov (wrist), John Erskine (neck surgery)

SHARKS

Melker Karlsson - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Matt Nieto

Tomas Hertl - Chris Tierney - Tommy Wingels

John Scott - James Sheppard - Barclay Goodrow

Scott Hannan - Brent Burns

Matt Irwin - Matt Tennyson

Brenden Dillon - Mirco Mueller

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

Scratched: Tyler Kennedy, Andrew Desjardins, Dylan DeMelo

Injured: Raffi Torres (knee), Mike Brown (right leg), Justin Braun (left hand), Tye McGinn (upper body), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (upper body), Daniil Tarasov (undisclosed)

Status report: Niemi will make his fourth straight start. He gave up five goals on 34 shots in a 6-5 Sharks shootout victory against the Capitals on Oct. 14. ... Scott was a healthy scratch the past three games. ... Alzner is expected to be in the lineup and play his 400th career NHL game, all with the Capitals.

Who's hot: Kuznetsov has eight points (2-6-8) in his past eight games. ... Backstrom has 13 points (3-10-13) in his past 11 games. ... Ovechkin has six goals in his past seven games. ... Couture has a three-game point streak (1-3-4).

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