VANCOUVER, B.C. — Every game is basically a must win now for the Sharks if they hope to at least move into second place in the Pacific Division and have home ice advantage for the first round of the NHL playoffs.
Two games against the Vancouver Canucks, starting with Sunday’s game at Rogers Arena, seem to have come at the perfect time.
The Sharks have won their last 10 games in Vancouver since Jan. 21, 2012 and could desperately use two points as they try to reel back in Edmonton and Anaheim in their final road game of the regular season. Goalie Martin Jones will start for the Sharks.
The Oilers moved into first place with their overtime win over the Ducks on Saturday. Although both teams have 97 points, Edmonton has 40 regulation or overtime wins this season to Anaheim’s 39.
The Sharks have lost eight of nine, picking up just two points since the middle of March, and Sunday’s game ends a stretch in which they played seven of eight games away from home. Their road record right now is 19-18-3, a year after they went 28-10-3 away from home.
“We have four games left and we want to get our best game ready for the playoffs, get our game going again,” Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi said. “I don’t think we’ve been playing our best hockey lately. We want to get back to Sharks hockey and winning hockey again.”
The Sharks scratched Donskoi and Joel Ward from Friday’s game against Calgary, a 5-2 Flames win. Donksoi had gone without a point in 13 games since he returned from an upper body injury March 6, and Ward had gone without a point in eight games.
“A lot of things to improve,” Donskoi said. “I feel I haven’t played my best hockey in a long time. I don’t care what happened in the past. I don’t care how the (last) game went. All I’m thinking about is these last four games, I want to get myself to the highest level possible and I know we have our best games ahead. So, I want to be ready.”
DeBoer said to his knowledge as of Sunday afternoon, everyone on the roster was available to play Sunday.
“Nobody’s healthy this time of year, we’re dealing with all kinds of little things and we’re making our lineup based on what’s best for the team that night,” DeBoer said. “(Today) is a new day, everybody’s available today from my understanding. We’ll get through pregame warmup and come up with a lineup.”