SAN JOSE -– The Sharks’ depth will likely be tested a little bit more headed into a game against the NHL’s most high-powered offense on Saturday afternoon.
Joonas Donskoi is day-to-day with a lower body injury after he left in the second period of Thursday’s 6-3 loss to the Oilers. Although he was not ruled out, the 1 p.m. start against the Dallas Stars probably means he’ll miss his first contest since Oct. 24.
Donskoi collided with linemate Logan Couture on Thursday, tried to play through, but was unable to continue. He took his last shift with 13:32 to go in the middle frame.
“Tried to keep going, but it just kept getting little bit worse,” Donskoi said. “I thought it’s better to get out.”
Coach Pete DeBoer said: “He came in today much improved from last night, but I don’t know whether he’ll play tomorrow. That will be something we’ll see how he feels tomorrow morning.”
Donskoi and DeBoer both indicated that the injury could have been worse. The forward was walking around with no noticeable limp, though, and will continue to rest and get treatment until he’s ready to return.
DeBoer said that the injury was muscular.
“Any type of muscular thing, you never know how serious it is until the guy wakes up the next morning, and either he can move or he can’t,” he said. “He was moving well today, so that’s a good sign.”
Considering the Sharks are on the cusp of clinching a playoff spot, there’s no reason to rush the 23-year-old back into the lineup.
“I think I have to be patient,” Donskoi said. “As much as I want to come back as fast as I can, I want to be 100 percent OK when I come back.”
In 69 games, Donskoi has 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points. He’s skated on the team’s second line with Couture and Melker Karlsson for the past nine games, and has added some punch to the second power play unit, too.
“He controls the tempo really when he’s out there with the puck. Hopefully he’s not out that long term,” Couture said.
DeBoer said: “He’s made himself a tough to replace guy, to his credit. The energy, the battle level, the possession he has, the way he hounds the puck. He’s made himself a tough guy to replace, which is a good thing.”
Dainius Zubrus would likely replace Donskoi among the forward group, while Micheal Haley could also stay in on the fourth line. No one else had yet been recalled from the Barracuda for Friday's optional practice.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body) remains out and did not skate on Friday, while Matt Nieto (hand) is sidelined for at least a couple more weeks.
“I think we have good depth in our lineup, and I think we have good guys coming up, too,” Donskoi said. “It’s one of those things that when we go through the rest of the season, playoffs, stuff like that, there’s going to be injuries [and] we have to be ready for that.”
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Dallas, which owns the best record in the Western Conference (44-22-9, 97 points), also leads the NHL with 243 goals.
Martin Jones will start in net for San Jose.