SHARKS (4-0-1) at RANGERS (2-3-0)
TV: TVA SPORTS, CSN-CA, MSG
San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan is sticking with his goalie rotation Sunday against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Alex Stalock is back in the net after making 42 saves in a 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday.
Stalock has stopped 72 of 75 shots, including 30 of 30 for a shutout against the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 11. He has a .960 save percentage and 1.44 goals-against average. Antti Niemi made 35 saves in a 4-2 win against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Saturday.
The Sharks have not lost in regulation this season.
"Alex will play here and he'll get another opportunity to help us find a way to be successful," McLellan said. "We believe in both of them."
McLellan also said the Sharks will likely be making a change on defense with Jason Demers expected to play for Scott Hannan. Demers sat out the game Saturday as a healthy scratch. He is fourth on the Sharks in ice time per game (21:00) and has two assists.
The Sharks have outscored the opposition 7-0 in the first period, but McLellan said the challenge Sunday is to come out strong considering they are playing a back-to-back and their third game in four nights, and Rangers haven't played since Thursday.
"We've had that trait as a team for a while now where we are on our toes and get going," McLellan said. "[Sunday] it'll be interesting [with] three games in four nights and a quick turnaround. If we can have that start and get our foot on the gas pedal we'll try and take advantage of it. The starts have been good. The back ends of games have to get better."
If the lines the Rangers used in practice Saturday hold up, rookie Kevin Hayes will be on the top line centering Rick Nash and Chris Kreider, and Chris Mueller will be making his season debut on the fourth line. Mueller was recalled from the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League on Friday; forwards Jesper Fast and J.T. Miller were reassigned to Hartford.
Dominic Moore will likely move up from the fourth line to play center between Carl Hagelin and Lee Stempniak, leaving Derick Brassard in the middle of Martin St. Louis and Mats Zuccarello.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault did not address the media prior to the game.
Here are the projected lineups:
Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Tomas Hertl
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Matt Nieto
Tommy Wingels - Chris Tierney - Tye McGinn
Adam Burish - Andrew Desjardins - Eriah Hayes
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Mirco Mueller - Brent Burns
Jason Demers - Matt Irwin
Scratched: Scott Hannan, John Scott
Injured: Tyler Kennedy (upper body), Mike Brown (upper body), Raffi Torres (knee)
Chris Kreider - Kevin Hayes - Rick Nash
Mats Zuccarello - Derick Brassard - Martin St. Louis
Carl Hagelin - Dominic Moore - Lee Stempniak
Tanner Glass - Chris Mueller - Ryan Malone
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Matt Hunwick - Marc Staal
John Moore - Kevin Klein
Scratched: Anthony Duclair, Michael Kostka
Injured: Dan Boyle (hand), Derek Stepan (leg)
Status report: The Sharks have scored the first goal in each of their five games this season. … The Rangers are 0-for-16 on the power play, making them one of four teams without a power-play goal. The others are the Minnesota Wild (0-for-11), Winnipeg Jets (0-for-12) and Buffalo Sabres (0-for-22). … Lundqvist has a 1.72 GAA and .944 save percentage in three career appearances against the Sharks at Madison Square Garden. … Thornton has 32 points in 32 career games against the Rangers.
Who's hot: Pavelski and Couture each had a goal and two assists against the Devils on Saturday. … Marleau has scored a goal in four of the five games this season. … Thornton carries a four-game point streak into the Garden; he has a goal and five assists during the streak. … Brassard has a three-game goal-scoring streak. … After scoring six goals in the first four games, Nash scored the shootout winner against the Hurricanes on Thursday.