After a heart breaking loss to the Golden Knights in Vegas last night, the Sharks (11-8-2, 5th Pacific) will have an opportunity to put it quickly behind them this evening as they host the red hot Winnipeg Jets (14-5-3, 2nd Central) for their first meeting of the year. The Jets have been surging lately, riding a 6-1-0 record in their last seven, and a 10-2-1 record in their last 13 to sit two points back of the St. Louis Blues for the top spot in the Central division and the Western conference.
It may well be that all the Jets needed these past few years was decent goaltending, and they've gotten it this year. Connor Hellebuyck seems to have found his groove, going 12-2-2 on the season with a save percentage of .928 and a goals against average of 2.36. Maybe this would have happened if general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff hadn't given Steve Mason eight million dollars, but here we are.
The Sharks will face the aforementioned Mason tonight, whose record is significantly less sterling: 2-3-1, with a .907 save percentage and a 3.31 goals against. He may be figuring it out lately however, as his last four appearances have seen him put up a .964 and a 1.19, respectively. Hellebuyck shone in a 4-1 win over the Ducks in Anaheim last night, and has earned a night of rest on the bench, after allowing more goals than his franchise has total playoff game wins.
I'm sorry, Jets, that was mean.
The Jets' offense is nothing to sneeze at either. Led in goals and in points (tie) by Mark Scheifele (11-14-25), and assists by Blake Wheeler (20), the Jets' top six is seriously dangerous. Winnipeg's top three scorers, Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Patrik Laine combine for 32 goals. San Jose's top three: Logan Couture, Joonas Donskoi, and Chris Tierney combine for 23. Captain Joe Pavelski sits fourth on that list, and has not recorded a goal in nine straight.
The Sharks come home from a two game road trip tonight with one measly point to show for their efforts. They've slipped lately, going 1-2-2 in their last five games after going 6-1-0 in the seven games preceding them. It's possible however, that the concerns about the Sharks' lack of offense this year are coming to an end. The Sharks scored five goals from five different players en route to a 5-4 over time loss. No, don't read that again, some, ahem, controversial, ahem, officiating stole the spotlight as Couture's go ahead goal was disallowed upon review for goaltender interference.
More importantly, Brent Burns finally got on the board, scoring his first goal of the season on his 85th shot. We've seen him taking more low percentage shots lately, and passing up some opportunities so hopefully, getting his first can open the proverbial floodgates. Joe Thornton grabbed a hold of 12th place in all time assists, and sits only five back of Dale Hawerchuk for 19th place in all time points.
If Burns' goal was the start of something special, and the Sharks' new look power play can continue to develop in the direction we saw last night, they may be able to prevent the Jets from chalking up their fourth three-game win streak tonight.
Timo Meier -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi -- Logan Couture -- Tomas Hertl
Mikkel Boedker -- Chris Tierney -- Jannik Hansen
Kevin Labanc -- Daniel O'Regan -- Joel Ward
Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon -- Brent Burns
Dylan DeMelo -- Tim Heed
Scratched: Ryan Carpenter, Joakim Ryan
Injured: Paul Martin (ankle), Barclay Goodrow (upper body), Melker Karlsson (upper body)
Scuttlebutt is that Heed will draw into the lineup in place of Ryan, presumably to keep DeMelo in the game for as long as it takes for him to do something impressive enough to sell high. Karlsson participated in the Sharks' optional skate today, and expects to get back into game action at some point during the Sharks' upcoming road trip to meet the Flyers, Panthers, Lightning, and Capitals.
Kyle Connor -- Mark Scheifele -- Blake Wheeler
Nikolaj Ehlers -- Bryan Little -- Patrik Laine
Andrew Copp -- Adam Lowry -- Brandon Tanev
Mathieu Perreault -- Matt Hendricks -- Joel Armia
Josh Morrissey -- Jacob Trouba
Ben Chiarot -- Dustin Byfuglien
Dmitry Kulikov -- Tyler Myers
Scratched: Marko Dano, Tucker Poolman, Shawn Matthias
Injured: Toby Enstrom (lower body)
The only person left alive who still thinks Patrik Laine is better than Auston Matthews: Laine himself, has seven goals and 11 points in his last 11 games, and Scheifele has eight goals ans 17 points in his last 13. Like I said, these guys are hot, and should not be underestimated any more.
Where to watch
Broadcast: NBCSCA, SN
Stream: NHL.tv / NHL App
Radio: 98.5 KFOX / NHL App / Sharks App