Devan Dubnyk suffers from a non-COVID lower body injury on a daily basis, the Sharks said on Thursday, which means coach Bob Boughner and his staff will likely have to rely on goalkeeper Martin Jones for at least the next while.
Jones starts Thursday night for the second time in a row against the Los Angeles Kings, his former team.
It is unclear when Dubnyk’s injury occurred. His last game was against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday when he stopped 32 of 33 shots in a 2-1 loss for the Sharks. Dubnyk, 34, has played six games this season and set a 0-3-1 record, but also a solid 0.917 percent saving and 2.71 goals against average.
Dubnyk’s injury puts Jones more on his shoulders, at least for a short time.
Jones and Dubnyk have had separate goalkeeping duties in the Sharks’ last four two-game series, as Jones only started both games of a series against Arizona at the beginning of the season. Jones defeated the Coyotes 4-3 in a shootout on January 14, but was drawn two days later in the third stage of a 5-3 loss to Arizona in favor of Dubnyk.
Jones, who was 5-2 in seven games this season with a saving of 0.878 percent, stopped 24 of 27 shots against the Kings on Tuesday and was perfect in overtime and in the shootout when the Sharks in Staples Center won 4-3.
Rookie goalkeeper Alexei Melnichuk, who was recalled by the Barracuda on Wednesday, will be the backup of Jones vs. the Kings.
The 22-year-old Melnichuk was signed as a free agent from the KHL in the off-season. He attended training camp with the Sharks and was on the team’s taxi squad earlier this season, but recently played his first two professional games in North America with the Barracuda. Melnichuk had a 0-1-1 record with a savings of 0.879 percent.
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The next two scheduled games of the Sharks after Thursday evening are the home game on Saturday against the Vegas Golden Knights and on Monday against the Anaheim Ducks. After that, San Jose will play the Blues in St. Louis on February 18th and 20th, ending the month with home games against the Golden Knights on February 25th and the Blues on February 27th.
Jones has been the NHL’s busiest goalkeeper since joining the Sharks prior to the 2015/16 season. For the past five-plus years, Jones has a record 160-110-23 with a savings of 0.907 percent and has played in each of the team’s 60 playoff games during that time. Over the past two seasons, Jones’ saving percentage dropped to 0.896 when he hit a combined 53-40-7.
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