The San Jose Sharks have a National Hockey League-low three regulation losses, in part because of how they've jumped on teams in the first period.
They'll try to continue that early game dominance as they go for their sixth straight win Tuesday (7 p.m. ET) against a Toronto Maple Leafs team that's dropped four in a row.
The Sharks (18-3-5) lead the league with 36 first-period goals and have allowed 14. They didn't follow that pattern Saturday in a 4-3 shootout win over Anaheim, trailing 1-0 after 20 minutes, but scored three second-period goals to build a 3-1 lead.
Kadri to miss game for family reasons
Centre Nazem Kadri will not play against the Sharks because of a death of his grandfather, according to Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle.
Centre Peter Holland was tabbed to take Kadri's place in the lineup.
Holland did line rushes between Mason Raymond and Nikolai Kulemin at the morning skate. It is possible that line at least starts the
game against San Jose at 7 p.m. ET.
Kadri, a native of London, Ont., has seven goals and 10 assists in 24 games this season.
Carlyle called defenceman Cody Franson a "game-time decision" with a lower-body injury. The coach said he had not yet consulted
with medical personnel after the morning skate.
Franson did not play in Saturday's loss at the Montreal Canadiens after being injured Friday in Buffalo.
Despite blowing that advantage in the third, Antti Niemi stopped three shootout chances to give the Sharks their eighth win in nine games.
Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau and Martin Havlat had goals for San Jose, which completed a perfect five-game homestand.
"It's good to win but we made a lot of mistakes," Couture said.
The Sharks haven't made that many overall, though, as their 92 goals scored are among the most in the league and their 60 allowed are among the fewest.
San Jose is in first place in the Pacific Division, emerging as one of the top teams in a loaded Western Conference.
"It's the division, it's the conference," coach Todd McLellan told the team's official website. "It's that close. It's got to be exciting for hockey fans all over because there really isn't anybody that's pulling away or a clear-cut favourite, and some really important hard-fought games at this time of year."
San Jose has built its gaudy record in part by dominating East teams, going 7-1-2. It appears to have a good chance to pad that mark during a four-game road trip that features three opponents from that conference to start the stretch.
First up is Toronto, which the Sharks have beaten in five of the past six meetings and is 0-2-2 in its last four overall. The Maple Leafs (14-10-3) have scored two or fewer goals five times in the previous six contests, going 1-3-2.
'We need to find our spark. We have to be excited to play, and we have to find a way to score goals.' - Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier
Toronto certainly wasn't good in the first period its last time out, falling behind 2-0 and eventually 4-0 in the second of a 4-2 road loss to Montreal on Saturday.
"We need to find our spark," goaltender Jonathan Bernier said. "We have to be excited to play, and we have to find a way to score goals. That's what we were doing at the start of the season."
They were also killing penalties at the start of the season, denying 46 of 53 opportunities (86.8 per cent) in October. Toronto, though, has allowed opponents to go 7-for-15 during its four-game skid with at least one power-play goal given up in each contest.
The Maple Leafs' power play has gone 1-for-9 in that span.
Returning home after their three-game trip might help, as the Leafs' 31.6 per cent home power-play mark is tops in the NHL.
San Jose's Joe Thornton has recorded at least a point in 12 of his last 13 games, with three goals and 13 assists in that span.