After a late-season stumble and a first-round playoff exit in 2016-17, the San Jose Sharks are trying to ensure that history does not repeat itself.
The Sharks look for their fifth straight win and eighth in 10 games when they meet the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.
San Jose (40-23-9) returns to SAP Center after a three-game sweep through western Canada capped by a 5-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.
"That was a huge trip coming away with six points," defenseman Justin Braun said.
With less than three weeks left in the regular season, the Sharks are in the second place in the Pacific Division. This game starts a three-game homestand that includes a matchup with the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday.
San Jose trails the first-year Golden Knights by eight points -- and at least one player thinks there is a chance to come away with a division title.
Last season, the Sharks dropped six in a row in the final weeks of the regular season and were sent packing by the Edmonton Oilers in six games. Perhaps all of that is something Logan Couture remembers too well.
"We're in a good spot, but there's still 10 games, there's still 20 possible points for us to go and get," the winger told the league's official website.
First, the Sharks go for a sweep of the season series with the Devils. Martin Jones posted the first of his four shutouts this season with 28 saves in a 3-0 win over the Devils on Oct. 20.
While with San Jose, Jones is 1-1-0 with a 1.01 goals-against in two career starts against New Jersey at SAP Center. He made 26 stops in a 4-0 win in San Jose in the most recent matchup on Nov. 21, 2016.
The Sharks have 37 goals in their last nine games, and the play of Evander Kane has helped fuel that surge. Since coming over from the Buffalo Sabres, Kane has five goals and five assists in nine games.
The fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft posted his first career hat trick after collecting four goals in Friday's 7-4 win over the Calgary Flames.
Pavelski has five assists in a four-game streak and 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 16 career games against New Jersey. Hertl is also red-hot with three straight multipoint games, totaling four goals and three assists.
New Jersey (37-27-8) is fifth in the Atlantic Division and holds the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. With 10 games to go, the Devils are just seven points behind the first-place Washington Capitals.
After taking the first three games of a six-game road trip, New Jersey dropped a 4-2 decision to Anaheim on Sunday. Kyle Palmieri notched his 20th goal and Patrick Maroon scored for the Devils, who were outshot 36-17.
"I think this is the time of year where it is the best time to play. You should be ready every night. No excuses," said Maroon, who has two goals and five assists in eight games since being picked up from the Edmonton Oilers last month.
One player who has slowed down some for New Jersey is winger Taylor Hall. He has a goal and two assists in five games after a 26-game points streak in which he logged 18 goals and 20 assists.
Hall has six goals and seven assists in 12 career games in San Jose.
Goaltender Keith Kinkaid has started every game on the road trip, surrendering nine goals on 152 shots. He needs one win to reach 20 for the first time in his career and had the first road shutout of his career on March 10, 2016, against the Sharks.
If Cory Schneider starts, he will be looking to snap an 0-8-2 slide. He's 4-3-0 with a 3.60 GAA all time in the Bay Area.
Regardless of who starts, Devils coach John Hynes has only one thing on his mind.
"We've got to find a way to win it. We got to find a way to be way better than we were (Sunday), and it' not about what's gone on the trip or 'what if.' Let's just be here to win hockey games," he said.
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Source : https://www.cbssports.com/nhl/gametracker/preview/NHL_20180320_NJ@SJ/918