OTTAWA -- San Jose Sharks backup goalie Alex Stalock will make his first NHL start against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday as Antti Niemi finally gets a rest.
Niemi stopped 22 shots Saturday in San Jose's 2-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre for his second shutout in three games. He has started all 11 games as the Sharks have gotten off to a league-leading 9-1-1 start.
Stalock's three previous games with the Sharks were all relief appearances, including two last season. He missed nearly a year after having surgery to repair a nerve behind his knee that was severed in a minor league game on February 4, 2011, just three days after he won his NHL debut.
San Jose coach Todd McLellan felt that starting Stalock might spur his teammates to summon some extra effort for a strong finish to their eastern swing.
"Time to get him in and this is a great opportunity for him," McLellan said prior to the game Sunday at Canadian Tire Centre. "I'd like to think that our guys will play really hard for him. It might be a good thing for us playing Alex tonight. Back end of a long road trip, back to back, maybe guys will dig in a little bit more and we'll empty the tanks."
Dan Boyle remained out of the Sharks' lineup for a sixth straight game. He has been sidelined since Oct. 15 when he was injured on a hit from Maxim Lapierre of the St. Louis Blues. Lapierre was suspended for five games.
Boyle skated with his teammates Saturday in Montreal. He may be ready to return for San Jose's next game against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center.
"We hope that Wednesday is the day for him but he needs to get his feet underneath him a little bit more and a full practice in with the team," McLellan said. "But he's feeling remarkably good for what he went through, just not there yet."
Ottawa left wing Clarke MacArthur will miss his first game of the season.
"He has a minor injury that we just want to make sure doesn't grow into anything bigger, so we're going to just maintenance it today," Senators coach Paul MacLean said.
Center Jean-Gabriel Pageau draws back into Ottawa's lineup after sitting out three games.
Neither team skated Sunday. Here is how the Sharks and Senators might line up:
Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Freddie Hamilton
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tyler Kennedy
Matthew Nieto - Joe Pavelski - Tommy Wingels
James Sheppard - Andrew Desjardins - Mike Brown
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brad Stuart – Scott Hannan
Matt Irwin – Jason Demers
Scratched: John McCarthy
Injured: Brent Burns, Martin Havlat, Raffi Torres, Dan Boyle, Adam Burish
Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Mika Zibanejad
Cory Conacher - Kyle Turris - Bobby Ryan
Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Derek Grant - - Erik Condra
Jared Cowen - Erik Karlsson
Chris Phillips - Patrick Wiercioch
Marc Methot - Joe Corvo
Scratched: Eric Gryba, Matt Kassian
Injured: Clarke MacArthur