The Carolina Hurricanes (16-11-1, 33pts) host the San Jose Sharks (15-13-1, 31pts) tonight at PNC Arena. It is the second and final regular-season game between the teams; the first was a 5-2 loss against the Sharks in San Jose back on October 16th.
To win tonight and even the season series with the Sharks, the Canes will need to score. They’ve now been shut out in two of their last three games, a 3-0 loss to the Predators and a 2-0 defeat to the Bruins. The last time the Canes scored four or more goals? A 4-2 win on November 23rd against the Panthers.
The Canes will need to generate that much-needed offense without two of their best players. Erik Haula remains sidelined with a knee injury, while rookie Martin Necas is nursing a lower-body injury. Brian Gibbons has been recalled from Charlotte, so the seven defensemen strategy will once again be shelved for the time being.
Petr Mrazek (11-6-1) is expected to get the start. Mrazek has lost three of his last four starts and conceded three or more goals in each of the losses. The last time he held an opponent under three goals was also his most recent home win — the 4-2 victory mentioned above against the Panthers.
Here’s how the Canes are expected to take the ice:
Nino Niederreiter - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Andrei Svechnikov- Jordan Staal - Warren Foegele
Ryan Dzingel - Lucas Wallmark - Jordan Martinook
Brock McGinn - Clark Bishop - Brian Gibbons
Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
Joel Edmundson - Brett Pesce
Jake Gardiner - Haydn Fleury
Injuries and Scratches: Erik Haula (knee), Martin Necas (lower-body), Trevor van Riemsdyk (healthy)
The Sharks are coming off of a loss on Tuesday to the Washington Capitals. After a slow start to the season, the Sharks put together an excellent November in which they went 11-4-0, including a six-game winning streak. Tonight’s game is the first in a four-game road trip that will take them to Tampa, South Florida, and then Nashville.
Up front, the Sharks are led by Captain Logan Couture (8g, 20a) and Evander Kane (13g, 10a). Couture has three goals in his last three games. Kane scored against the Caps but had been held goalless in the eight games prior, although he recorded a hat trick in the earlier game against the Hurricanes this season.
On the back end, the Sharks boast a pair of former Norris trophy winners. Although Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson are still producing points, they’re vulnerable at 5v5. Karlsson is minus-3 on the season so far, while Burns is an atrocious minus-16.
Aaron Dell will get the start for the Sharks tonight, who project to look like this:
Evander Kane - Logan Couture - Barclay Goodrow
Timo Meier - Tomas Hertl - Patrick Marleau
Marcus Sorensen - Joe Thornton - Kevin Labanc
Noah Gregor - Dylan Gambrell - Melker Karlsson
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Erik Karlsson
Radim Simek - Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon - Mario Ferraro
Injuries and Scratches: Dalton Prout (upper-body), Antti Suomela (upper-body), Jacob Middleton (healthy)