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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, March 14th (All times Eastern)
San Jose Sharks (43-17-7) at New York Islanders (25-33-9), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Having moved into a tie atop the Pacific Division the previous night, the San Jose Sharks take aim at a fifth straight victory on Friday as they resume their road trip versus the New York Islanders.
The Sharks began a three-game swing with last night's 4-3 shootout decision over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Patrick Marleau scored twice and Joe Pavelski had the lone tally in the tiebreaker.
Backup Alex Stalock continued to thrive this season in shootouts. He stopped all three skaters faced and is 3-0 in the breakaway format this season while stopping all 10 shooters faced.
"One-on-one anytime is fun," said Stalock, who made 35 saves through overtime. "It's a contest, a competition. Whether it's practice or a game, it's fun."
San Jose's fourth straight win gave it 93 points on the season, matching the Anaheim Ducks atop the Pacific Division standings. The Ducks do have a game in hand and visit the Colorado Avalanche tonight.
The Sharks wrap their three-game swing on Sunday versus the New York Rangers as they continue a string of 12 straight games versus the Eastern Conference. They are 7-1-1 over that stretch.
Antti Niemi should be back between the pipes tonight for San Jose and is 0-0-1 with a 3.42 goals against average in two previous starts versus the Islanders. That includes a 3-2 shootout defeat in San Jose on Dec. 10.
The Islanders rallied from a 2-0 deficit in that game, getting the game-tying goal and shootout winner from Kyle Okposo.
Marleau had a goal and an assist, while Pavelski added a goal as the Sharks lost to the Islanders for the first time in past five meetings. They have won their past two in New York.
The Islanders pulled off an even more impressive comeback in their last trip to the ice, scoring seven times in the third period to top the Vancouver Canucks 7-4. New York trailed 3-0 going into the third period, but got goals from seven different skaters to go 2-1-1 on a four-game road trip.
Anders Lee, Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey finished with a goal and an assist each, while Cal Clutterbuck, Matt Martin, Ryan Strome and Calvin De Haan also scored.
Okposo ended with three assists and Evgeni Nabokov allowed four goals on 24 shots.
"It does feel good to put seven on the board and come back in the fashion that we did," said Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic.
The Islanders tied a team record for most goals in a period, matching a mark set on Dec. 23, 1978 against the New York Rangers.
New York, though, did lose Michael Grabner to a concussion in the game and will be without the speedy forward for the start of this four-game homestand as he is out indefinitely. In 63 games this season, Grabner has 12 goals and 13 assists.
Lee is likely to move up on the depth chart to replace Grabner and has five goals with two assists in seven games this season.
The Islanders will play host to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday so it is unknown if Nabokov or Anders Nilsson will start in net. Neither has faced the Sharks.
Nabokov missed the December meeting against his former club with a groin injury, but did get a standing ovation during a stoppage in the first period when his image appeared on screen.
Nabokov was a ninth-round pick by the Sharks in 1994 and went 293-178-66 with 50 shutouts and a 2.39 GAA in 563 games with the club. The 38-year-old exited the club following the 2009-10 season as the franchise's all-time leader in wins, shutouts and games played.
03/14 10:50:44 ET
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