After missing eleven games with a hand injury, Justin Braun makes his much-anticipated return to the lineup tonight just in time for the Sharks to take on the best team in the NHL. With San Jose having fallen to fourth place in the Pacific Division, precariously close to falling out of playoff position all together, tonight's visit to the league leader in wins and standings points couldn't be much more crucial.
Tale Of The Tape
|29-21-8, 66 points
||Record||38-12-6, 82 points|
|4th in Pacific||Rank||1st in Central
Projected Sharks Lineup
Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Melker Karlsson
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Matt Nieto
Tomas Hertl - Chris Tierney - Tommy Wingels
Barclay Goodrow - James Sheppard - Tyler Kennedy
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon - Justin Braun
Matt Irwin - Scott Hannan
Projected Predators Lineup
Colin Wilson - Mike Ribeiro - James Neal
Filip Forsberg - Calle Jarnkrok - Taylor Beck
Matt Cullen - Mike Fisher - Craig Smith
Gabriel Bourque - Paul Gaustad - Eric Nystrom
Roman Josi - Shea Weber
Anton Volchenkov - Seth Jones
Mattias Ekholm - Victor Bartley
Tomas Hertl scored five minutes into the game and Joe Thornton put the puck into an empty net late in the third to seal a 2-0 Sharks victory over Nashville at SAP Center in mid-December. Antti Niemi stopped 29 shots for the shutout.
- Nashville pulled the trigger on a significant trade over the weekend, sending a 1st round pick, prospect Brendan Leipsic, and salary dump Olli Jokinen to Toronto in exchange for former Preds Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli. Due to immigration issues, neither player is expected to be in tonight's lineup.
- With Braun returning, the Sharks were forced to trim their roster by one. The casualty was Matt Tennyson, re-assigned this morning to Worcester. Tennyson was the only defenseman on the Sharks roster both on a two-way contract and eligible to play in the NHL so the move makes sense from that perspective but it's hard to argue Scott Hannan or Mirco Mueller has provided more to the team this season than Tennyson.
- Alex Stalock gets a rare start in net for the Sharks while the Preds counter with Pekka Rinne.