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Rangers behind the 8-ball entering matchup vs. Sharks

Sports Xchange
11 Oct 2018, 11:16 GMT+10

NEW YORK -- For the San Jose Sharks and New York Rangers, eight meant different things in their previous games.

The Sharks totaled eight goals in their first regulation win of the young season while the Rangers allowed eight in falling to 0-3-0.

On Thursday, the teams will get together at Madison Square Garden where the Sharks will hope to keep the goals flowing while the Rangers will hope to avoid another ugly loss.

The Sharks (2-2-0) are heading back to New York following a dynamic 8-2 win in Philadelphia on Tuesday. After getting 35 shots on goal in Monday's 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders, San Jose saw 13 players get at least one point.

"Sometimes that back-to-back game, you feel better for whatever reason," Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. "You should be a little tired, but it woke our legs up a little bit. We moved a lot better, passing was cleaner.

Pavelski and Evander Kane registered two goals and two assists apiece while playing on different lines after opening training camp as linemates. Pavelski scored the second and third goals while Kane netted the next two.

"It's early enough in the season where those back-to-back games aren't as bad," Kane said. "It was good to get a bunch of different guys on the board after getting shut out yesterday afternoon."

Pavelski scored his first two goals while Kane is up to four goals already. Kevin Lebanc tied a team record with four assists by setting up Pavelski's two goals and Kane's second goal

It was the first time since Oct. 8, 2013, that the Sharks scored eight goals. The opponent that night was the Rangers, who gave up nine goals early in a season that saw them lose in the Stanley Cup Final.

The follow-up to San Jose's last eight-goal showing was a 4-1 win at Vancouver, and the Sharks are hoping for a similar showing against the Eastern Conference's only team without a point.

The Rangers are 0-3-0 for the first time since 1998-99 after absorbing an 8-5 defeat Sunday at Carolina. After not getting a lead and scoring three goals in their first two losses, the Rangers held the lead four times before allowing four goals in the final 15 minutes.

The last time the Rangers began a season with four straight losses was also 1998-99, the second of their seven straight seasons out of the playoffs.

New York followed that rough stretch by making the playoffs in 10 of 12 seasons and is experiencing rough patches in its rebuilding efforts so far under first-year coach David Quinn.

While wholesale changes are not looming, it is possible defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk could be a healthy scratch. Knee surgery cost him 36 games last season, his plus-minus rating is minus-4 and his ice time was 7:29 Sunday.

"You have to learn from it, obviously," Shattenkirk told reporters. "I'm not a guy that would take that the wrong way and mope about it."

Another change could be on New York's No. 1 line. Based on line combinations in practice this week, rookie center Brett Howden may start on the top line flanked by Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello.

Howden made the team out of training camp after being acquired from Tampa Bay as part of the return in the deal involving J.T. Miller and Ryan McDonagh. In three games, he has a goal and two assists.

"He's getting more comfortable for sure," Quinn told reporters at practice Tuesday. "As most first-year players in this league get when they have a little bit of success, there's a confidence level that grows."

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist did not play Sunday but is expected to start Thursday. Martin Jones is likely to start for San Jose.

Since San Jose's 9-2 win over the Rangers five years ago, New York is 5-3-1 in the last nine meetings. Last season, the Sharks posted a 4-1 victory in New York on Oct. 23, while the Rangers recorded a 6-5 win in San Jose on Jan. 25.

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