Other than the other-worldly Columbus Blue Jackets—who have won eight straight games and are challenging for just the franchise’s second playoff berth—no team in the NHL is as hot as the San Jose Sharks, who ride a five-game winning streak into Saturday night’s matchup with the Minnesota Wild at the SAP Center.
And no player in the National Hockey League is as hot as Sharks forward Joe Pavelski, who had the game’s only goal Thursday night against Winnipeg and has seven goals in his last four games and 19 in his last 21.
With 28 goals on the season, Pavelski trails only Washington’s Alex Ovechkin in the league and his 51 points are tied for 11th in the NHL. Pavelski’s hot streak coincides with him being placed on a wing with Joe Thornton, opposite Brent Burns. Thornton leads the league with 47 assists.
This is the rubber match between Minnesota and San Jose, who split their first two meetings—each winning on home ice. The Wild beat the Sharks 3-1 in St. Paul on Dec. 8 and San Jose returned the favor four days later at the SAP Center, also by a 3-1 count.
The Sharks are 16-6-3 all-time at home against the Wild and have won the last three meetings in San Jose. Minnesota’s last win was a 2-1 victory on Dec. 6, 2011.
The rest of The Docket for Saturday featured college hoops. Lots of it.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Loyola Marymount Lions (11-10) at Saint Mary’s Gaels (15-5), 3 p.m.
The Gaels have surged into second place in the West Coast Conference, a game in back of Gonzaga, while the Lions are among the bottom feeders in the league at 3-6. Saint Mary’s leads the all-time series 73-55 and swept last season’s matchups, including a 74-61 win at McKeon Pavilion on Jan. 5, 2013. The Gaels have won 13 of their last 14 against LMU, the lone loss coming at Moraga on Feb. 15, 2012.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: San Jose State Spartans (6-13) at Boise State Broncos (13-6), 3 p.m.
The Spartans are 0-7 in Mountain West Conference play while the Broncos are a disappointing 3-3 to start league play after being projected by many to win the conference title. The series between the schools resumes for the first time since 2011, when Boise State left the Western Athletic Conference to join the Mountain West. It’s been a bit lopsided, with the Broncos leading the all-time series 22-2. San Jose State has also never won at Boise, where they are 0-12. Their last meeting there was on March 5, 2011, a 66-51 win for Boise State.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Santa Clara Broncos (10-11) at USF Dons (12-8), 5 p.m.
The Dons are hanging around in the WCC at 5-3 while the slumping Broncos are 3-5 after three straight losses. Santa Clara leads the all-time series 77-68 and swept last year’s meetings, including an 85-54 blowout at War Memorial Gym. The Dons do hold a 35-34 edge at home, but have lost the last two meetings with the Broncos on The Hilltop.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Sacramento State Hornets (6-10) at Northern Colorado Bears (12-4), 6:05 p.m.
The Bears are tied with Weber State for the Big Sky Conference lead at 6-1 while the 2-5 Hornets roll into Greeley leading only Southern Utah, which is winless in league play. Northern Colorado leads the all-time series 10-4, with the teams splitting last year’s pair of games. The Bears posted a 78-64 win at home on Feb. 16. Sacramento State is 2-5 at Northern Colorado and the Hornets posted a 73-62 win there on Feb. 2, 2012.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Pepperdine Waves (12-9) at Pacific Tigers (10-8), 7 p.m.
The Tigers’ return to the WCC hasn’t gone as they would have hoped at just 1-6 in league play. The Waves are 5-4, having already surpassed last year’s total of four conference victories. Pacific and Pepperdine last met on Dec. 1, 2010, with the Waves taking a 70-60 win at the Spanos Center. The Tigers lead the all-time series 28-21, however, and are 14-9 at home in those games. Pepperdine has won the last two in Stockton; Pacific’s last win over the Waves on their home court was a 64-58 victory on Dec. 30, 1999.
Portland at Warriors, 6 p.m.
Denver at Kings, 6 p.m.
Stanford at USC, 2 p.m.
Cal at UCLA, 5 p.m.
UCLA at Cal, 6 p.m.
USC at Stanford, 6 p.m.