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Penguins at Sharks Preview: Patty’s back, back again

The San Jose Sharks (27-33-4, 7th Pacific) look to get a little win streak going tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins (37-20-6, 3rd Metropolitan) tonight. San Jose won Thursday night 3-2 in overtime against the New Jersey Devils. The win snapped San Jose’s five game losing streak.

The Penguins, meanwhile, are in a bit of a slump. They have lost six games in a row including a 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks last night. The losses have dropped Pittsburgh to third in the tight race for the Metropolitan Division title and they’re in danger of falling out of the race and into a wild card spot if they don’t turn things around immediately.

The Sharks will have to watch out for a desperate Pittsburgh club.

The last time these two teams met, it was in Pittsburgh on Jan. 2. Brent Burns scored a power play goal and the Sharks won 3-2 in overtime. Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture also scored in the game and Aaron Dell made 36 of 38 stops for the win.

Martin Jones in net

Barring any unforeseen problems, Martin Jones will start in net tonight. Following Friday’s practice, Head Coach Bob Boughner voiced what everyone was thinking, the team will go with the hot hand.

As Curtis Pashelka of the Mercury News reports: “We’ve been going back and forth and Jonesy got a win last night,” said Boughner. “It’s important we try and get some kind of rotation where the winner sort of stays. It’s a healthy competition. I plan on using both guys a lot down the stretch.”

When then Head Coach Pete DeBoer played this kind of goalie game, he never came right out and said Aaron Dell had a shot at earning the starting job. As a result, Dell played himself out of the competition.

Boughner has challenged both goaltenders to earn their time in the crease. It will be interesting to see if Dell responds differently this time around. His future with the Sharks and possibly in the NHL as a whole could be on the line. It’s a contract year and it’s time to see if Dell has what it takes when the pressure is on.

Patrick Marleau returns

When Patrick Marleau walks into SAP Center tonight he’ll be wearing his familiar number 12, but the logo on the front will be a lot different. In a classy move, 25-year-old Dominik Simon gave up his number 12 when the Pens traded for Marleau at the deadline.

As a result, Marleau is wearing 12 for Pittsburgh as well.

This will be Marleau’s first game back at SAP Center since the trade deadline. Marleau wanted a shot the Stanley Cup and the Penguins wanted a bottom six forward with hockey smarts, speed and skill. The two matched and now it’s time to see how it works out.

Marleau has played two games with the Penguins since the trade. Amusingly, both games were here in California. On Wednesday against the Los Angeles Kings, Marleau spent most of his time on a line with Brandon Tanev and Teddy Blueger. Then on Friday night, Marleau slotted in with Jared McCann and Dominik Simon.

Patty is getting ice time in all situations. On Friday night in Anaheim, he had 14:44 of ice time and more than two minutes of that was on the power play. He also played 3:15 on the penalty kill.

Sharks celebrate Black History Month

Tonight at the Tank, the Sharks will celebrate Black History Month. Things start outside at 3:30 p.m. with a visit from the NHL black hockey history mobile museum. The mobile museum features memorabilia from notable black hockey players like Willie O’Ree, Evander Kane, and P.K. Subban.

O’Ree toured with the museum in Southern California earlier this week, but likely won’t be in the Bay Area tonight. However, he did talk to our own Sheng Peng beforehand about his storied career playing professional hockey and what it was like being one of the first black men to lace up skates professionally. It’s a great read and you can find it here.

Closer to puck drop, the Sharks will honor forward Evander Kane with his very own Black Panther bobblehead.

Bold Prediction: Since the Penguins are among the last teams in the league that I’d root for even when they have Patty in the lineup, I’m going to call for a Sharks win. A humiliating 5-1 blowout that sees Alexander True get rewarded with a hat trick for all of his recent hard work.

That’s my bold prediction, go ahead and drop yours below.

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