Sharks try to rebound against Jets without Thornton

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( - The San Jose Sharks will try to rebound from a lopsided loss without one of their top players on Monday night as they visit the Winnipeg Jets.

The Sharks lost for the fourth time in five games on Saturday as they were routed by the St. Louis Blues 7-2. Joe Thornton did not play due to an upper- body injury suffered on New Year's Eve against the Anaheim Ducks and has since been placed on injured reserve.

Thornton had a string of 319 straight games played snapped and the 35-year-old has posted a team-high 24 assists on the season. His 33 points also are tied with Joe Pavelski for the most on the club.

Pavelski and Melker Karlsson had first-period goals versus the Blues, while Antti Niemi was tagged for six goals on 27 shots. He was coming off a 3-0 shutout of the Ducks, but was lifted in the third period.

Backup Alex Stalock gave up a goal on six shots faced over the final 14 minutes and 44 seconds of action.

"Effort just wasn't there," said Pavelski. "It's disappointing, that's the biggest thing."

The Sharks are set to visit the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday and tonight could be a good time to give Stalock a start. He has posted a shutout in both of his career starts against the Jets, stopping a total of 50 shots. That includes a 30-save effort at home in his season debut on Oct. 11 versus Winnipeg.

Niemi is 2-2-1 versus Winnipeg with a 3.13 GAA and .897 save percentage.

Overall, the Sharks have won eight of their past 11 versus the Jets and are 3-0-1 in the previous four meetings as the visiting team in this series.

Winnipeg seeks a second victory in a row as it is coming off a 5-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. Bryan Little was one of five different goal scorers for the Jets, adding two assists to help his club bounce back from regulation losses to the Minnesota Wild and New York Islanders to begin a four-game homestand.

Dustin Byfuglien also scored to continue his successful campaign, one that saw him move back from forward to defense last month after a rash of injuries hit Winnipeg's blue line. Byfuglien had five shots, three hits, was a plus-4 and logged 23:51 of ice time versus the Leafs and has totaled nine goals and 22 points in 39 games on the season.

"Just a dominant force in all aspects of the game," Jets head coach Paul Maurice said of Byfuglien's performance.

Defenseman Ben Chiarot netted his first NHL goal, T.J. Galiardi and Matt Halischuk also scored and Michael Hutchinson posted 20 saves. Blake Wheeler had an assist to give him two goals and four helpers over a five-game point streak.

It is unknown if Maurice will stick with Hutchinson again tonight or if he will go back to Ondrej Pavelec.

Hutchinson, who has never faced the Sharks, improved to 10-3-2 this season with a 1.81 GAA and .937 save percentage in 16 games, all but two of those starts.

Pavelec is 1-3-0 in his career versus the Sharks in five games (4 starts) with a 2.20 GAA and .929 save percentage.