Carolina Hurricanes (18-26-7) at San Jose Sharks (28-18-7)
|Date & Time||Saturday February 7, 2015, 10:30 PM (EST)|
The Line: San Jose Sharks -213 / Carolina Hurricanes +191 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
In an important game in the Western Conference playoff picture the San Jose Sharks got a much needed victory over a team right on their heels. Thursday night’s 5-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks lifted the Sharks four points ahead of the Canucks in the Pacific Division standings. That lead is nice, but when you consider that San Jose has played three more games than the Canucks. With the Calgary Flames playing solid hockey right now as well the race in the Pacific Division is going to be a great one. San Jose controlled this game early on and it was Matt Irwin’s fourth goal of the season that came late in the first period that gave the Sharks the 1-0 lead. Melker Karlsson doubled the lead in the second with his ninth of the season, and Joe Pavelski made it 3-0 Sharks with his 28th of the season coming on the power play. Radim Vrbata broke the shutout bit for Antti Niemi with under two minutes remaining in regulation but Chris Tierney and Andrew Desjardins also added goals to seal the comfortable victory. Perhaps this is the type of regular season that the Sharks need in order to get them to where they want to go in the post season. For too many years things seemed to come too easily for San Jose during the regular season and when they were faced with adversity in the playoff they weren’t able to handle it. This season has been anything but a breeze for the Sharks and despite the fact that they currently occupy second place in the division there’s still no guarantee they find themselves in the post season this year. Seeing Niemi play well is exactly what the Sharks should be most encouraged by because the Finnish netminder has really picked up his game from early in the season and San Jose is going to need him to be at the top of his game the rest of the way.
Into town on Saturday night come the Carolina Hurricanes who still occupy the bottom of the Metropolitan Division but are playing slightly better hockey of late. Right now it’s all about building for the future for the Hurricanes and it will be interesting to see the type of package they can get back for a coveted blue liner like Andrej Sekera if they are unable to get him signed to a contract extension by the trading deadline. Attempting to acquire as much young talent is extremely important for the organization right now but they also need to figure out if Cam Ward is still the answer in goal and if captain Eric Staal is still capable of being the player they need him to be in order for the club to be successful. Thursday night in Arizona the Hurricanes played a strong road game and were eventually rewarded for the efforts with a shootout victory. Carolina got their only goal of the game just 1:03 into regulation from Victor Rask, but watched the Coyotes tie things up a little over five minutes later. The two clubs played scoreless hockey the rest of the way despite the Hurricanes firing 41 shots on goal over the course of regulation and overtime. In the skills competition Ward stopped all three Coyotes shooters he faced and Elias Lindholm scored the only goal for the Hurricanes to lift them to the 2-1 win.
Carolina put up an impressive fight the other night against the Ducks in Anaheim and the Sharks could be in position for a let down on Saturday night. Still, the Sharks are desperate for points right now with where they’re at in the standings and a home game against one of the worst clubs in the NHL is one of those games they simply must win.