The Sharks (16-10-3, 3rd Pacific) hit the road to start a three game road trip through Western Canada in Calgary to visit the Flames (16-12-3, 4th Pacific). The Sharks and Flames are tied in the standings with 35 points, but San Jose hold the edge having played two fewer games and therefore, having lost two fewer games, a gap that can be considerably widened over the next five contests against divisional opponents heading into Christmas (and a sixth right after).
San Jose just finished up a three game home stand Sunday evening that could be accurately described as hugely successful. The Sharks banked five of six possible points in three games including a 5-0 shellacking of the Ottawa Senators, a rousing and spirited 5-4 overtime comeback win over the Carolina Hurricanes, and a similarly rousing but less spirited 4-3 overtime comeback not-quite-win to the Minnesota Wild.
The Sharks are 5-2-1 in their last eight games, and their power play produced two goals in each of the three games at home, improving their success rate on the man advantage to 19.6%, good enough for 13th in the league, and 2nd for the month of December.
Calgary is also coming off of a loser point affair to the visiting Wild, a 2-1 loss on Tuesday. The Flames have acquitted themselves well recently, earning points in their last four straight games (2-0-2) and climbing into the aforementioned tie for the third Pacific playoff spot. If key forwards Johnny Gaudreau (four points in his last eight games after 22 points in his previous 12) and Sam Bennett (eight points in his last eight games after three points in his previous 23) can get going at the same time, this team could start flying any day now.
The Sharks face a familiar nemesis in goaltender Mike Smith (13-9-3, 2.60 GAA, .919 sv %), acquired by the Flames in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes in June. Smith has compiled an all time record of 12-8-3 against the Sharks, and, along with a save percentage of .942 and a goals against average of 2.15, that makes for stiff competition. If the Sharks can bank some points over the next few games against divisional opponents, they can make up quite a bit of ground on the faltering Vegas Golden Knights and soaring Los Angeles Kings.
Four point game tonight, boys, go get 'em!
Melker Karlsson -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski
Tomas Hertl -- Logan Couture -- Kevin Labanc
Timo Meier -- Chris Tierney -- Joel Ward
Joonas Donskoi -- Marcus Sorensen -- Jannik Hansen
Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon -- Brent Burns
Joakim Ryan -- Tim Heed
Scratched: Daniel O'Regan
Injured: Mikkel Boedker (lower body), Barclay Goodrow (lower body), Dylan DeMelo (head)
Dell gets the start tonight, presumably to allow for both him and Jones to play for their hometown crowds (Dell is from Airdrie, Alberta, Jones is from Vancouver, tomorrow's opponent). Dell is coming off a 25 save shutout of the Senators on Saturday, and holds a 5-3-1 record with a GAA of 1.71 and a save percentage of .939 in 11 games this year.
Donskoi looks to draw back in after missing six games (the Sharks did well in his absence, 3-2-1), but head coach Peter DeBoer was pretty hush hush on who is likely to sit in his stead. The above scratch is a hunch that should be solidified by game time. Boedker is classified as a game time decision, but it doesn't look likely.
Johnny Gaudreau -- Sean Monahan -- Micheal Ferland
Matthew Tkachuk -- Mikael Backlund -- Michael Frolik
Sam Bennett -- Mark Jankowski -- Garnet Hathaway
Troy Brouwer -- Matt Stajan -- Curtis Lazar
Mark Giordano -- Dougie Hamilton
TJ Brodie -- Travis Hamonic
Brett Kulak -- Michael Stone
Scratched: Freddie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski
Injured: Kris Versteeg (hip), Jaromir Jagr (lower body)
Where to watch
Broadcast: NBCSCA, SNF
Stream: NHL.tv / NHL App
Radio: 98.5 KFOX / NHL App / Sharks App