SAN JOSE –- As tight as the Sharks’ team game has been during their current nine-game point streak, the penalty kill is one area that has hit a snag. Since the previous time that San Jose played Colorado at home on Dec. 28, that unit is just 24-for-36 (66.7 percent) in the last 13 games.
That night against the Avalanche in particular was a rough one, as Colorado struck for four power play goals on six chances in a 6-3 win.
“We looked at last game. I think that was one of those aberration games,” Pete DeBoer said. “There’s going to be ebbs and flows in all parts of our game. Like I said when it started poorly at the beginning of the year, we like 95 percent of the things we’re doing on it. Cleaning up a couple details, getting a save at the right time, that’s the difference between really good or not. But, I’m not worried about it long term.”
Justin Braun recalled: “We weren’t very sharp on the details. We were giving up a lot of chances on the inside, and we want to take that away tonight.”
The Sharks haven’t made any adjustments to the PK since it’s struggled, according to Braun, although the defenseman indicated that they could perhaps be a bit more aggressive. Headed into Tuesday’s game, San Jose is down to 24th in the league (79.3 percent).
“We’ve just got to keep going out there and working hard. It’s not a time to sit back and watch them pass it around,” Braun said. “You’ve got to go out there and challenge them and make them work for their opportunities.”
Colorado brings a four-game winning streak into the game, having allowed just four goals over that span. They have one more game left after tonight when they visit Los Angeles on Wednesday.
“They’re rolling. You get on streaks in this league and you play the right way, you start to win,” Tommy Wingels said. “They’re a team that has a lot of skill and like the puck in transition, and like odd-man rushes. We’ve got to grind it out a bit, which we’re more than willing and able to do.”
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Dainius Zubrus will return after missing the last nine games with an upper body injury. He’ll take Mike Brown’s place on the fourth line with Chris Tierney and Melker Karlsson.
Zubrus termed the injury as “weird,” and earlier in the week was seen trying on extra protection around his midsection.
“I think it will take a little bit of time to heal still, but I’ve been feeling good and I’ll be ready to go tonight,” Zubrus said.
Getting in a game before the All-Star break was important to the 37-year-old veteran, who has one goal and one assist in 17 games.
“I really wanted to play a game before the break just because after break I want to be back in the lineup and playing,” he said. “I didn’t want to go through that long of a period without a game, so it will be nice to be back out there.”
DeBoer expects Zubrus will bring “a little energy. He’s healthy. This is a guy that I thought had been very effective for us until he got hurt. … We all felt it was important to get him back in here and get him moving again.”
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One key Sharks player who’s struggling to find the scoresheet lately is center Patrick Marleau. The 36-year-old has just one goal – an empty netter – in his last 12 games. His minus-14 rating is the worst mark on the team.
DeBoer, though, compared Marleau to Joe Thornton, who has 24 points in his last 21 games (6g, 18a) after just 15 in his first 26.
“I’m not worried about the offensive production,” DeBoer said. “Jumbo went through a stretch where he wasn’t scoring and everyone was asking about offensive production. They’re playing hard, they’re playing well, they’re creating things for themselves or other people.
“It might not be going in, but if they keep doing that, I don’t have an issue and I know he’s going to come out the other end of it.”
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Martin Jones will make his fourth straight start in net, facing Colorado’s Calvin Pickard, who beat San Jose on Dec. 28 with 35 saves.
It will be the third straight game the Sharks will see a backup, after they beat Minnesota’s Darcy Kuemper on Saturday but lost to the Kings’ Jhonas Enroth in overtime on Sunday.