After winless trip, Sharks seek another win vs. Flames
The San Jose Sharks know they need to be better than the team that just completed a winless road trip.
Opening a six-game homestand, the Sharks look to continue their dominance over the surging Calgary Flames on Sunday night at SAP Center.
San Jose (8-6-3), which has won five in a row overall and four straight at home against Calgary, is back in Northern California a pair of poor outings.
Martin Jones gave up the game-winner with less than six minutes to play in a 4-3 loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday before the Sharks failed to generate any offense in a 4-0 defeat to the St. Louis Blues on Friday.
"We're a better team than what we've shown the last two games," San Jose captain Joe Pavelski said Friday.
Coach Peter DeBoer admitted the club has a lot to fix after these two games.
"Some other nights it looks like we got it figured out," he said after the loss to the Blues. "It's consistency. Consistency in our game and having that composure to not beat ourselves. We're not there yet."
One slumping Shark who may get a spark from facing the Flames is Evander Kane. The winger scored six goals in two games against Calgary last season after being acquired in late February from the Buffalo Sabres. That included a career-high four markers in San Jose's 7-4 win on March 16.
Kane has one goal in his last seven games overall.
Jones (4-1-1, 2.49 goals-against average at home in 2018-19) will likely be between the pipes after Aaron Dell faced St. Louis. While with the Sharks, Jones is 7-3-0 with a 2.74 GAA in 10 career starts versus the Flames.
Looking for its sixth win in seven games, Calgary (10-6-1) wraps up a swing through California after defeating the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 on Saturday behind 21 saves from backup David Rittich and Travis Hamonic's first-period goal.
"Good victory, obviously. We had contributions throughout and it's good for David Rittich to get his first career shutout," Flames coach Bill Peters said.
In spite of Rittich's success, Mike Smith will face the Sharks, associate coach Geoff Ward told the team's official website. Among the 23 goaltenders with at least 10 starts this season, Smith ranks 21st with a 3.66 GAA.
Smith told the Calgary Herald on Friday that he will improve.
"I know I haven't played my best yet. There's more to give. It's about finding it and getting the confidence. And it starts in practice, I'm a big believer in that," said the 36-year-old, who's yielded two goals or less in each of his last five road starts against the Sharks, posting a 2-2-1 record.
A key to the Flames' success this season is balanced scoring up front.
Wingers Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk are tied for the team lead with 19 points each, while winger Elias Lindholm and center Sean Monahan are right behind with 18 apiece.
Lindholm, acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes in June, already has a team-leading nine goals in 17 games after notching a career-best 16 in 81 contests last season. He has five points (two goals, three assists) in four career games in San Jose.
Several Sharks are in position for career milestones.
Joe Thornton needs one goal for 400 in his career and one assist to tie Mario Lemieux for 11th?on the all-time list with 1,033. "Jumbo Joe" has 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in his last 11 games versus the Flames.
Center Logan Couture, who is tied for second on the club with 17 points, is scheduled to play in his 600th NHL game, while defenseman Erik Karlsson (seven assists in 17 games) is one helper shy of 400 for his career.
Updated November 11, 2018