Programming note: Sharks-Hurricanes coverage starts Tuesday at 7 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
SAN JOSE – Alex Stalock will start in goal for the Sharks on Tuesday night, when the club plays its first home game in nearly a month against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Stalock has started two of the first three games after the Olympic break, including wins over Philadelphia and New Jersey.
No, it doesn’t mean that he’s supplanted Antti Niemi as the starting goaltender. In three separate questions about Stalock, head coach Todd McLellan brought the discussion back to the 30-year-old who has struggled with his consistency this season and who served as Team Finland's third string goalie for the Olympics.
“[Stalock is] playing well right now. He’s won some games for us, he looks comfortable in the net,” McLellan said. “It gives Nemo time to come home. When you think about his trip back from [Sochi], he hasn’t had any practice time. It gives him a day here to skate, and another one tomorrow. That’s what we’re doing.”
McLellan agreed that Stalock has earned more playing time, with a 10-4-0 record, 1.78 goals-against average and .933 save percentage. He was outstanding on Sunday in a 4-2 win over the Devils, and made some key saves in Philadelphia before the Sharks blew that one open on the way to a 7-3 win.
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Still in his first full NHL season, Stalock will be starting back-to-back games for the first time in his career.
“I think that’s exciting for him. We really believe we’ll rise to the occasion because of it,” McLellan said.
Stlaock said: “It’s great to get back in there. We talk all year, it’s hard to play with long stretches of not playing. This way, get right back in there, and hopefully you keep it rolling.”
McLellan suggested having two proven goaltenders headed into playoffs is paramount.
“Nemo has got a ton of playoff experience and we expect him to be superb when that starts, but you never know what happens in a series: injury, illness, level of play. The guy you might turn to has to be prepared, and has to have experienced just about every aspect of the game prior to getting there.”