The San Jose Sharks (26-15-7, 2nd Pacific) will face the Pittsburgh Penguins (27-21-3, 3rd Metropolitan) for the second time this month and the final time this season (probably), hoping for a similar result (a 2-1 win in San Jose) to their last go 'round. Both clubs will be getting their starting goaltenders back tonight, San Jose's Martin Jones will start for the first time since a shellacking on 20 January courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche, and Pittsburgh's Matt Murray is back for the first time since 7 January following the death of his father.
Whether the injury that caused Jones to miss four games this month was a lingering issue since his visible problem on 25 November is an interesting question. Jones posted a save percentage of .886 in 13 games between that night and his ouster in Colorado earlier this month.
The Penguins are hot lately, 7-2-0 in their last nine, but one of those losses was in San Jose (there's hope for us yet). Captain Sidney Crosby is still searching for that elusive 400th NHL goal, but he's done everything else since the calendar turned: he's tops in the NHL in points since the first of the year with three goals and 20 points in that span. Defensive mishaps and sliding starfish be damned, our very own Brent Burns sits fourth on that list (tied with Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin) with 16 points.
With top center and child's-birthday-party-surfing-Santa-Claus-for-hire-probably Joe Thornton out an indefinite period of time after arthroscopic knee surgery, the Sharks' depth will have to continue to step up their scoring. San Jose's seven players with ten or more goals is second in the NHL (tied with the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders, Washington Capitals, and Winnipeg Jets) to the New York Rangers with eight. This will have to come in handy when you scroll down this page to look at the line combinations for tonight, because they're a doozy.
If the Sharks can get back to the defensive ways for which they were known for the first twenty-odd games of the season, they just may be able to handle the post-Thornton storm for long enough to sneak into the post-season. That will require a much more complete effort tonight than the one we saw in the 6-5 loss to the Rangers before the break.
Bake' em away, toys.
Timo Meier -- Logan Couture -- Kevin Labanc
Mikkel Boedker -- Joe Pavelski -- Chris Tierney
Melker Karlsson -- Tomas Hertl -- Joonas Donskoi
Marcus Sorensen -- Barclay Goodrow -- Joel Ward
Brent Burns -- Joakim Ryan
Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon -- Dylan DeMelo
Scratched: Jannik Hansen, Daniel O'Regan, Tim Heed
Injured: Joe Thornton (knee)
Let it not be said that Pete DeBoer is not adventurous, because this is some beyond thunderdome, life in the upside down, out where the buses don't run madness here. O'Regan was recalled this morning, but will watch from the press box and bond with Tim Heed.
Dominik Simon -- Sidney Crosby -- Conor Sheary
Carl Hagelin -- Evgeni Malkin -- Patric Hornqvist
Jake Guentzel -- Riley Sheahan -- Phil Kessel
Tom Kuhnhackl -- Jean-Sebastien Dea -- Bryan Rust
Brian Dumoulin -- Kris Letang
Olli Maatta -- Justin Schultz
Ian Cole -- Jamie Oleksiak
Scratched: Ryan Reaves
Injured: Carter Rowney (upper body), Chad Ruhwedel (upper body), Matt Hunwick (upper body)
Where to watch
Broadcast: NBCSCA, ATTSN-PT
Stream: NHL.tv / NHL App
Radio: 98.5 KFOX / NHL App / Sharks App