Reaching the halfway point of their home schedule, the San Jose Sharks are still almost perfect at HP Pavilion and remain in the hunt for league history.
Saturday’s home game could help that pursuit as the Western Conference-leading Sharks (28-4-5) face the NHL’s worst team, the New York Islanders (12-23-4).
San Jose enters with an 18-0-2 home record, and has also won four straight during a 9-0-1 stretch at the Shark Tank.
Since the NHL expanded from its Original Six teams in 1967-68, no team has finished without a regulation loss at home. The 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens came the closest at 33-1 with six ties, and the 1994-95 Quebec Nordiques also went 19-1 with four ties during a lockout-shortened season.
The Sharks will face one of the worst road teams in the Islanders, who are 5-14-2 away from home and have dropped 11 straight road games (0-10-1).
However, San Jose is experiencing one of its toughest stretches of the season at 3-1-3, but all four of those losses have come during a pair of three-game road trips. The Sharks went 1-0-2 in their most recent trek, which included Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime loss at Minnesota.
Despite those road struggles, San Jose has lost once in regulation in its last 21 overall games - a 15-1-5 stretch - but it barely avoided another on Wednesday.
“It was important that we played hard all the way until the end, but disappointing we didn’t get the extra point,” defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said.
While they have eight goals in their last five road games, the Sharks have scored 13 in their past three at home.
Patrick Marleau went without a point during the road trip, but has nine points in his last four home games. Marleau hasn’t produced much offense against the Islanders, though, collecting one goal and four assists in 13 games.
San Jose’s Evgeni Nabokov is 15-0-1 with a 1.92 goals-against average at home while 5-3-3 on with a 3.13 GAA on the road. Nabokov is 5-2-0 all-time against the Islanders, including a 2-0 victory in New York’s most recent visit to HP Pavilion on Oct. 7, 2006.
Each of the Islanders’ last four road losses have come by one goal, including Friday’s 5-4 defeat at Phoenix.
After Joey MacDonald led New York to a 4-2 victory over Florida on Wednesday, Rick DiPietro looked rusty in Friday’s loss as he allowed five goals on 33 shots. DiPietro, who missed 27 games following knee surgery earlier this season, returned after missing three with a groin injury.
“It was good to get back into the game and get some live action,” said DiPietro, who has made two starts since Oct. 25. “It was nice that I didn’t hurt anything and finished the game. Besides losing, I feel good physically.”
Islanders captain Bill Guerin, who finished the 2006-07 season with San Jose, recorded an assist for a fourth straight game and extended his point streak to five.
The Sharks are 6-2-0 with one tie against the Islanders dating back to Feb. 15, 2000. They have also won four of the last five at home over New York.