Sharks-Rangers coverage gets underway at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California
Where they stand
Sharks: 22-15-5, 49 points, 3rd Pacific Division
Rangers: 23-11-4, 50 points, 3rd Metropolitan Division
Sharks: For the second time in five days, the Sharks lost by a 7-2 margin to the St. Louis Blues. On Thursday at Scottrade Center, seven different St. Louis players scored goals as the Sharks ended a three-game road trip with a 2-1-0 mark. Melker Karlsson scored his fourth goal in as many games for the Sharks, who are 3-4-0 since the Christmas break. Tonight, San Jose opens a stretch of eight of the next nine overall at SAP Center, sandwiched around the All-Star break.
Rangers: Currently the hottest team in hockey with a 12-1-0 mark in its last 13, New York erased an early 2-0 hole in beating the Kings at Staples Center on Thursday, 4-3. Dan Boyle’s power play goal got it going, and Kevin Klein, Lee Stempniak and Martin St. Louis also scored to help goalie Cam Talbot earn his fourth win. The Rangers are wrapping up a three-game swing through California, which started with a 4-1 whipping of Anaheim on Wednesday.
[RELATED: Sharks Mailbag: Marleau, Melker and Mueller]
Keep an eye on…
Sharks: Logan Couture. The Sharks center enters with seven points in his last five games, including a shorthanded goal and an assist in the loss to the Blues. Couture and Patrick Marleau have been separated ever since Joe Thornton got hurt, and the 25-year-old has reaped the benefits of playing with a pair of guys in Melker Karlsson and Joe Pavelski that simply seem to be playing harder than the slumping Marleau.
Rangers: Dan Boyle. It was a rough start in Broadway blue for the former Sharks defenseman, but lately Boyle has been heating up, with seven points in his last seven games (2g, 5a). Brought in to help the power play, Boyle has five points with a man advantage since Dec. 23, and the Rangers are 16-4-2 overall with him in the lineup. Boyle missed more than a month earlier this season – including a home game with the Sharks in October – with a broken hand.
Goals per game: 2.69 (16th)
Goals-against per game: 2.64 (17th)
Power play: 20.4 percent (10th)
Penalty kill: 80.2 percent (17th)
Goals per game: 3.13 (3rd)
Goals-against per game: 2.42 (8th)
Power play: 21.2 percent (8th)
Penalty kill: 82.8 percent (10th)
Melker Karlsson – Logan Couture – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Matt Nieto
Tomas Hertl – James Sheppard – Tommy Wingels
Tye McGinn – Andrew Desjardins – Barclay Goodrow
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Justin Braun
Scott Hannan – Matt Tennyson
Rick Nash – Derick Brassard – Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider – Derek Stepan – Martin St. Louis
Carl Hagelin – Kevin Hayes – Jesper Fast
J.T. Millers – Dominic Moore – Lee Stempniak
Ryan McDonagh – Dan Girardi
Marc Staal – Dan Boyle
Kevin Klein – John Moore
Sharks: Mirco Mueller (upper body), Raffi Torres (right knee), Tyler Kennedy (left shoulder) and Mike Brown (broken right fibula) are out.
The Rangers beat the Sharks on Oct. 19 at Madison Square Garden, 4-0. Henrik Lundqvist shut the door with 33 saves, while the Rangers tied a franchise record with two goals in a span of four seconds in the second period.
The Sharks are 8-19-5 all-time against the Rangers.
[REWIND: Blues show Sharks they have plenty of work to do]
Odds and ends
*Henrik Lundqvist’s 35 shutouts are the most among goalies since the start of the 2009-10 season. Antti Niemi (30) is tied for second.
*Lundqvist has allowed two or fewer goals to the Sharks in four of six career appearances. He’s 3-3-0- with a 2.21 GAA and .933 SP in seven games against the Sharks.
*Melker Karlsson’s four-game goal-scoring streak is tied for the second longest in franchise history. Jeff Friesen (five games) holds the record, set during the 1994-95 season.
*The Rangers have a power play goal in six of their last seven games (10-for-23, 43.5 percent).
*The Sharks have allowed multiple power play goals-against in four of their last seven games. That happened just twice in their first 35.
*San Jose’s power play is 1-for-19 in four games without Joe Thornton, and is just two for its last 33 (6.0 percent) over the last seven games.
*Dan Boyle is the Sharks’ all-time leader in goals (68), assists (201) and points (269) among defensemen.
*Tomas Hertl’s four-goal performance, including his infamous between-the-legs goal, came against the Rangers on Oct. 8, 2013.
“You can sit here and make every single excuse in the book – we’ve been playing a lot of games, we’re on the road, we’re missing Joe Thornton. But to lose 7-2 is unacceptable with this team that we have.” – Logan Couture