Programming note: Sharks-Penguins coverage gets underway at 7:00 p.m. on NBCSN
Where they stand
Sharks: 32-26-8, 72 points, 5th Pacific Division
Penguins: 38-18-9, 85 points, 3rd Metropolitan Division
Sharks: San Jose jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but couldn’t hold on in a 3-2 home loss to the Canucks on Saturday. Melker Karlsson and Joe Thornton scored in the first period, but Radim Vrbata had a pair for Vancouver, including the game-winner in the third period. The Sharks are just 1-7-2 in their last 10 home games, and host Nashville on Thursday and Chicago on Saturday. San Jose is five points behind Calgary for a playoff spot with 16 games left.
Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves for his league-leading ninth shutout, and Patric Hornqvist scored in overtime in a 1-0 Penguins win in Los Angeles on Saturday. Pittsburgh is wrapping up a four-game road trip tonight, and is 6-1 in its last seven games. The Penguins are 8-2-1 in their last 11 road games.
Keep an eye on…
Sharks: Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Now that he’s been reunited with regular partner Justin Braun, Vlasic has had a strong past three games, getting one point in each (1g, 2a) and posting a +5 rating. Vlasic will undoubtedly see plenty of the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin lines tonight as the Sharks will get the last chance at home, and the way he’s been playing lately, he could be up for the difficult task.
Penguins: Evgeni Malkin. The star center’s point streak was stopped at seven games on Saturday, but Malkin still has seven goals and seven assists in his last eight games entering tonight. The Penguins’ leading scorer (67 points) has one more than fellow star Sidney Crosby, and leads the NHL in points-per-game (1.12). Pittsburgh is 29-7-7 when Malkin tallies at least one point.
Goals per game: 2.80 (14th)
Goals-against per game: 2.74 (22nd)
Power play: 21.8 percent (5th)
Penalty kill: 79.6 percent (25th)
Goals per game: 2.85 (9th)
Goals-against per game: 2.38 (4th)
Power play: 20.4 percent (7th)
Penalty kill: 85.4 percent (5th)
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
Scott Hannan – Brent Burns
Mirco Mueller – Brenden Dillon
David Perron – Sidney Crosby – Patric Hornqvist
Chris Kunitz – Evgeni Malkin – Blake Comeau
Daniel Winnik – Brandon Sutter – Beau Bennett
Nick Spaling – Maxim Lapierre – Steve Downie
Paul Martin – Kris Letang
Rob Scuderi – Ian Cole
Derrick Pouliot – Ben Lovejoy
Sharks: Matt Irwin (upper body) is doubtful. Raffi Torres (right knee) and Mike Brown (broken right fibula) are out.
Penguins: Christian Ehrhoff (concussion) is day-to-day. Pascal Dupuis (blood clots) and Olli Maatta (upper body) are out.
This is the first of two meetings between the Penguins and Sharks, who visit Consol Energy Center on March 29 to close out a seven-game road trip.
The Sharks are 16-11-4 all-time vs. Pittsburgh, and 15-2-2 in the last 19. San Jose hasn’t lost at home to the Penguins since Oct. 22, 1997, going 10-0-1 over that span.
Odds and ends
*Sharks leading scorer Joe Pavelski has a five-game point streak (1g, 5a).
*Melker Karlsson has one goal in each of the last two games.
*Sidney Crosby had zero points, one shot and a -5 rating in his last game in San Jose on March 7, 2014, a 5-3 Sharks win.
*Mario Lemieux had 49 points (17g, 32a) in 14 career games vs. the Sharks, including five multi-goal games.
*Marc-Andre Fleury has started 15 games against the Western Conference, going 10-3-2 and posting six shutouts.
“It was our biggest game up to date. We got the start we want and we get the lead and we give it away slowly. We can be better than that.” – Joe Pavelski, after the 3-2 loss to Vancouver on Saturday