The San Jose Sharks and Toronto Maple Leafs conclude their season series tonight in San Jose with the final of their two meetings. In their first game back in December, Sharks defenseman Justin Braun scored his first goal of the campaign to help erase a third-period deficit and force extra time. Logan Couture went on to score the only goal in the shootout to give San Jose the victory in Toronto.
The Leafs sit in the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. Their 69 points are one ahead of the New York Islanders, and the entire conference is within 11 points of eighth seed Toronto. The Sharks remain in the driver’s seat in the Pacific Division, five points ahead of the Anaheim Ducks.
Maple Leafs Tinker With Roster
If the playoffs started today, the Maple Leafs would hold the eighth and final spot out in the Eastern Conference. The Toronto brain trust added the versatile Brian Boyle from the Tampa Bay Lightning to bolster the center position.
Sharks fans will also get their first live look at rookie phenom Auston Matthews, currently leading Toronto with 54 points, including 30 goals. He is closely followed by Mitch Marner, who might not play tonight in San Jose, at 48 points. Defenseman Jake Gardiner is on a four-game point streak with two goals and five assists over that span.
The Maple Leafs are coming off a loss to their eternal rival, the Montreal Canadiens, who beat the Leafs for the 14th straight time. Toronto will not have an easier time of it against the Sharks: The Maple Leafs are 1-10-0-0 in their last 11 games against San Jose.
San Jose Pacing the Pacific Division
The Sharks continue to lead the Pacific Division with a win over the Vancouver Canucks after San Jose’s bye week. The Sharks are hoping they did not pick up a case of the mumps along with the two points they brought with them from Vancouver.
San Jose also is rumored to be kicking the tires on a few players ahead of the NHL trade deadline tomorrow. Depth on the wing and (strangely) backup goaltending continue to be the positions the Sharks are said to be looking to improve before rosters are set tomorrow.
Got the sense Sharks are pretty pleased with Aaron Dell as backup G. But we'll see. San Jose looking for versatile depth forward.
— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) February 28, 2017
The Sharks will make a minor tweak to their roster for tonight’s game, inserting speedy winger Marcus Sorensen into the line-up. Sorensen has been on fire for the San Jose Barracuda with six goals and nine assists in his last ten games. He’s spent time with the Sharks as the extra forward (read: a healthy scratch) but will play his third NHL game tonight, likely on the third line.
Toronto Maple Leafs at San Jose Sharks
SAP Center – 7:30 p.m. PST
Broadcast channels – CSN-CA, SNO
Radio: Sharks Radio Network
2016-17 Season Series:
Dec. 13: Sharks 3 – Maple Leafs 2 (SO)
San Jose Sharks – 36-18-7 (79 Points)
Home Record: 18-7-4
Hot Players: Brent Burns, David Schlemko, Patrick Marleau
Key Injuries: Dylan DeMelo, Joonas Donskoi
Kevin Labanc – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Marcus Sorensen – Tomas Hertl – Joel Ward
Micheal Haley – Chris Tierney – Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
Toronto Maple Leafs – 28-20-13 –69 Points
Road Record: 13-10-7
Hot Players: Jake Gardiner
Key Injuries: Joffrey Lupul, Mitch Marner
Zach Hyman – Auston Matthews – William Nylander
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Mitch Marner
Leo Komarov – Nazem Kadri – Connor Brown
Matt Martin – Brian Boyle – Josh Leivo
Morgan Rielly – Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner – Alexey Marchenko
Matt Hunwick – Roman Polak
1)Brent Burns season continues to be the best on the Sharks and in the NHL among defenseman. Burns leads San Jose in goals (27), assists (38), points (65), plus/minus (+21), time on-ice (24:54) and shots on goal (246). Burns’ 65 points put him tied for third with Patrick Kane in the NHL scoring race, behind only Connor McDavid (71) and Sidney Crosby (67).
2)Patrick Marleau’s has goals in two straight games and continues to be a hot hand for the Sharks. Marleau recorded the game-winning goal against the Canucks and currently has 22 goals on the year.
Patrick Marleau's 503 career goals are now tied-42nd all-time with Peter Bondra. Up next at 41st: Hockey Hall of Famer Jean Beliveau (507)
— Darin Stephens (@SharksStats) February 26, 2017
3)With two goals against Montreal, Auston Matthews became the only the third rookie in Maple Leafs history to score 30 goals in a season.
4)Roman Polak is Toronto’s active leader in games played (25), assists (5), points (7), penalty minutes (12) against the San Jose Sharks. Polak joined San Jose at the last trade deadline and appeared in 48 games for the Sharks, 24 in both the regular season and playoffs, before returning to the Maple Leafs as a free agent this past summer.
5)The San Jose Sharks have a franchise mark of 21-20-5-0 all-time against the Maple Leafs.