Sharks-Canucks coverage gets underway at 6:30 p.m. on CSN California with Sharks Pregame Live
Where they stand
Sharks: 31-25-8, 70 points, 5th Pacific Division
Canucks: 36-23-3, 75 points, 2nd Pacific Division
Sharks: The Sharks put an end to an eight-game home losing streak in impressive fashion, blanking the Eastern Conference-leading Montreal Canadiens at SAP Center on Monday night, 4-0. Newcomer Ben Smith had one goal and one assist in the win, and Alex Stalock recorded his first shutout since the home opener with 20 saves. Patrick Marleau scored a power play goal for the third straight game, and Matt Irwin also found the net. After tonight’s brief trip, the Sharks open a four-game homestand with Vancouver again on Saturday.
Canucks: Five different Canucks scored and Radim Vrbata got the game-deciding goal in the shootout, as Vancouver beat St. Louis at home on Sunday, 6-5. The Canucks are 7-3 in their last 10 games, opening up a five-point lead on the Sharks, Flames and Kings for second place in the Pacific Division. Vancouver will visit Arizona on Thursday before the season series with the Sharks concludes on Saturday at SAP Center.
Keep an eye on…
Sharks: Ben Smith. The 26-year-old newcomer not only scored less than seven minutes into his Sharks debut, but his performance gave an energetic boost to the bench, something that had been lacking lately during the Sharks’ struggles. Smith seemed to have instant chemistry on a line with Tommy Wingels, one of two Sharks he already knew before the trade from Chicago, and Tomas Hertl. That trio was the Sharks’ best forward group in the win over Montreal, as they all got on the scoresheet and finished with a +2 rating.
Canucks: Shawn Matthias. Acquired from Florida one year ago as part of the deal for Roberto Luongo, the 27-year-old center has 16 goals this season, a new career high, including his first career hat trick vs. Boston on Feb. 13. The six-foot-four, 223-pound center, a former second round pick in 2006, scored a team-high seven goals in February.
Goals per game: 2.77 (16th)
Goals-against per game: 2.75 (21st)
Power play: 21.6 percent (6th)
Penalty kill: 79.5 percent (25th)
Goals per game: 2.84 (10th)
Goals-against per game: 2.68 (18th)
Power play: 18.1 percent (15th)
Penalty kill: 85.8 percent (4th)
Melker Karlsson – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Matt Nieto
Tomas Hertl – Ben Smith – Tommy Wingels
John Scott – Chris Tierney – Barclay Goodrow
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Mirco Mueller – Brenden Dillon
Matt Irwin – Brent Burns
Antti Niemi (confirmed starter)
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Zack Kassian
Chris Higgins – Nick Bonino – Radim Vrbata
Derek Dorsett – Shawn Matthias – Linden Vey
Ronalds Kenins – Bo Horvat – Jannik Hansen
Dan Hamhuis – Yannick Weber
Luca Sbisa – Alex Biega
Ryan Stanton – Adam Clendening
Sharks: Raffi Torres (right knee) and Mike Brown (broken right fibula) are out.
Canucks: Alex Burrows (lower body) is day-to-day. Brad Richardson (lower body), Kevin Bieksa (broken hand), Alex Edler (upper body), Chris Tanev (upper body), and Ryan Miller (sprained knee) are on injured reserve.
Vancouver has won two of the three meetings this season, although the Sharks claimed a 5-1 win in the most recent matchup on Feb. 5 at home. Logan Couture has three points (1g, 2a) to pace San Jose in the season series, while Vancouver’s Radim Vrbata has three goals.
The Sharks are 45-45-14 all-time vs. Vancouver.
Odds and ends
*Sharks defensemen Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun were paired together on Monday for the first time since Jan. 3.
*Joe Pavelski, who broke out of a six-game goal-scoring drought on Monday, is fourth in the NHL with 32 goals and second with 17 power play goals.
*Pavelski, Matt Irwin and Patrick Marleau all enter with modest three-game point streaks.
*The Sharks have not faced expected starter Eddie Lack this season, as the injured Ryan Miller played all of the first three games.
*Henrik Sedin is on a seven-game point streak, with 11 points over that span (4g, 7a).
*The Canucks are 17-3-3 in one-goal games, third in the NHL.
“Nice to start that way, and hopefully that can continue here. Anyway I can help this team win some games and move forward is something I’ll try to do every day.” – Ben Smith, after Monday’s win over Montreal