The Sharks entered Thursday night’s game against Arizona in remarkably healthy condition. They departed the desert with a pair of injuries in a disappointing 3-1 loss that may have quashed any chance they had at winning the Pacific Division.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Matt Nieto were both not able to complete the game.
Vlasic was seen favoring his right leg after Shane Doan hammered him along the wall behind the San Jose net, and he finished his shift before heading to the dressing room with about eight minutes to go in regulation.
Nieto’s injury was hard to discern, although the forward blocked a Mike Stone slap shot about two minutes into the second period. He did not return to the bench for the third period.
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Sharks coach Pete DeBoer did not offer much of an update after the game.
“We had a couple guys go down. We’ll see how they feel tomorrow,” DeBoer told reporters.
Vlasic’s injury is of greater concern, as he’s firmly San Jose’s best defensive defenseman and is having a strong season offensively with 39 points (8g, 31a) in 67 games. He missed three games from Dec. 5-9, and the Sharks went 0-2-1 while getting outscored, 12-8.
When down a top four defenseman, including games missed by Vlasic, Paul Martin and Justin Braun, the Sharks are 1-6-1 and have been outscored 33-19, although they’ve since bolstered their depth with the acquisition of Roman Polak.
Should Vlasic be forced to miss any time, Dylan DeMelo will likely draw back into the lineup. DeMelo was demoted after San Jose traded for Polak from Toronto just before the trade deadline. Eighth defenseman Matt Tennyson has been out with a head injury since Feb. 22, and only recently resumed skating.
If Nieto can’t play, Tommy Wingels, who has been a healthy scratch for the last two games, would almost certainly replace him. Nieto has just 17 points (8g, 9a) in 67 games, although his game had been trending up of late.
The Sharks host the Rangers on Saturday. New York dropped a 4-3 overtime decision in Los Angeles, which saw the Kings open up a seven-point lead on San Jose with 12 games left to play.
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While he didn’t want to go into much detail about the two injured players, DeBoer expressed bewilderment over the league’s decision to overturn Chris Tierney’s second period goal for what it called a “distinct kicking motion.”
“I’m going to ask for an explanation,” DeBoer said. “Distinct kicking motion and that replay don’t jibe for me. I’d like to know what their thought process was. … They’re good about explanations, so we’ll ask and find out what that was about.”
Captain Joe Pavelski was also perplexed.
“From our view, it’s more of a hockey play,” Pavelski told reporters. “[Tierney’s] got body position, there’s a guy on you, you’re just reacting. It didn’t really seem like a kicked puck, by any means. That’s how it goes, though.”