Sens face Sharks, old teammate Heatley in San Jose
- NHL.com Staff Writer
SENATORS (13-7-4) at SHARKS (18-6-4)
– Ottawa 6-2-2; San Jose 6-2-2
– This is the lone meeting between the teams this season. Patrick Marleau broke a 1-1 tie via the power play in the second period to lead the Sharks to a 2-1 win at Ottawa on Feb. 26.
– All eyes will be on this one as it marks Dany Heatley's first game against his former team since the ex-Senator was traded to Ottawa on Sept. 12. Milan Michalek
and Jonathan Cheechoo became members of the Sens in the same deal.
Head coach Cory Clouston had mixed feelings about his club's most recent performance on Saturday night in Boston. After blowing an early 2-0 lead, Michalek forced overtime when he scored with just 19.3 seconds remaining in what turned out to be a 4-3 shootout loss to the Bruins at TD Garden.
"I thought we got off to a real good start, almost too good, too soon, then we sort of just got very lethargic in the middle frame of that game," Clouston said. "I thought the last part of the second period and a good portion of the third period, we were okay, but we didn't do enough good things."
– After being waxed in a 7-2 loss to Chicago on home ice last Wednesday, San Jose responded with back-to-back wins in Edmonton and Vancouver, respectively. Evgeni Nabokov made 25 saves in Sunday's 4-2 win against the Canucks at GM Place.
"We know (our top line) is going to put the puck in the net and get the points and it's really good to see the other guys pinch in," Nabokov said. "That's what we need, especially playing against a good team like this, that's where you need that balance."
– Sens defenceman Alex Picard has recorded a pair of assists in three of his last seven games. He also has a goal during that span … One could certainly make the case that San Jose possesses the top line in the sport. The trio of Joe Thornton, Marleau and Heatley are all in the top seven in NHL scoring after combining for 9 goals and 24 points in the previous five games.
– Ottawa forward Chris Neil
(knee) is expected to be out until mid-December. Pascal Leclaire
(cheekbone) will likely miss another 3-4 weeks, while Shean Donovan (knee) is out 6-8 weeks … Sharks forward Brad Staubitz (facial injury) is skating with a full face shield and is day-to-day, as is Jody Shelley (general soreness).
– The Sharks are the first team to 40 points despite playing the most road games in the league, as 18 of their first 28 games were away from home. San Jose begins a stretch where 13 of its next 17 will take place at HP Pavilion.
– The intensity level would be even higher if this game was in Ottawa, but it will be must-see TV nonetheless as Heatley faces his former teammates for the first time since requesting a trade out of town during the off-season.