SAN JOSE – Chris Tierney will remain in the middle of the third line when the Sharks host Nashville on Thursday, looking for their fourth win in five games.
The rookie was promoted to that role after the first period of Monday’s 2-1 shootout win over Pittsburgh, skating between Tomas Hertl and Tommy Wingels.
“I thought Chris Tierney had a very good start to his game the other night, and we rewarded him with a little more ice time,” Todd McLellan said. “There’s no reason for him to lose that. … We’ll start that way tomorrow and if we have to switch as we go, we will.”
Tierney, 20, has bounced between the Sharks and AHL Worcester for much of the season. He has 9 points (2g, 7a) in 50 NHL games, and is likely here to stay after the Sharks were trade deadline sellers.
He set up Matt Nieto’s first period goal against the Penguins, and played 12:09, about a minute-and-a-half more than his season average.
“I think I’m just gaining more confidence, and taking time when I get the puck to see if I have the extra second to make a play instead of rimming it or just chipping it away right away,” Tierney said after the game. “It’s nice to keep getting more games up here, and keep getting better.”
The Sharks’ third line has been in flux all season, and when Tierney, Hertl and Wingels start the game together on Thursday, it will be the 22nd different third line combination to start a game that the Sharks have utilized in 68 games.
That’s partly due to injury, but also speaks to the struggle that the Sharks have had all season long in finding consistent depth scoring.
McLellan said: “The third line and maybe your four and five defensemen are so important in this league. They make such a difference to what’s going on, and when Chris and Tomas and Tommy got roaming around the other night against a very good team, I thought that was an advantage.
“If we can keep that going with those three, we will. If not, we’ll look for another combination.”