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Division title lost, Sharks welcome back Hertl as they shoot for 50th win

Perhaps a healthy Tomas Hertl will put the Sharks over the top in the Stanley Cup playoffs this year.
Photo by Vincent Pugliese/Getty Images

With the San Jose Sharks' Tuesday night loss to the Anaheim Ducks, the team is relegated to a second-place finish in the Pacific Division and a first-round playoff matchup with the Los Angeles Kings.

The good news is the Sharks get to close out their home schedule at the SAP Center tonight while shooting for their 50th win of the season (again) and welcoming back Tomas Hertl to the lineup after a long injury absence.

Hertl led all National Hockey League rookies with 25 points when he went down with a knee injury after 35 games. He had 15 goals and ten assists, while posting a +11 rating.

San Jose has lost two straight with the division title in their grasp, getting outscored 8-2 in the process, so Hertl's production will be a welcomed sight as the Sharks prepare for the postseason next week. The team closes the regular season tomorrow night in Phoenix.

Now, the Sharks (49-22-9) will have to play the Kings (46-28-7) again in the postseason, for the third time in the last four years. In 2013, the Kings won a seven-game series where the home team won every game -- this spring, however, San Jose will own the home-ice advantage.

The game tonight against the Colorado Avalanche is important to the visitors, who are tied for the lead in the Central Division with the St. Louis Blues. The second-place team there will draw the defending Stanley Cup champions (Chicago Blackhawks) in the first round of the postseason, so the Avs will be fighting hard tonight while the Sharks may be resting some key players in order to be ready for the playoffs next week.

Expect Alex Stalock to get the start in net for San Jose, for example, so starting goaltender Antti Niemi can get some time off before facing the Kings next week.

Game time is 7:00 p.m., and the Sharks are giving away Logan Couture bobbleheads before the game as a part of Fan Appreciation Night.

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