SAN JOSE — Now that the Sharks have shown they can string together wins on the road, they're turning into homebodies with eight of the 10 games leading up to the Olympic break at the SAP Center.
The Sharks are 16-2-3 at home, but coach Todd McLellan has other reasons to welcome this stretch.
"It'll give us a chance to recuperate at home, it'll give us a chance to play at home, and it'll give us some more practice time," he said.
The Sharks have played 15 of their last 23 games on the road, going 13-9-1. And their just completed sweep of the Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning marked the first time they've secured all the available points on multiple-game trips.
San Jose opens a four-game homestand Monday night against the Calgary Flames, then flies to Alberta on Jan. 28 for back-to-backs in Edmonton and Calgary before returning for four more leading up to the 19-day break for the Sochi Olympics.
Twenty of the Sharks' remaining 33 games are at home. While that would seem to work to their advantage as they try to narrow the 11-point gap between themselves and the division-leading Anaheim Ducks, the Ducks will be playing 20 of their remaining 31 games at home as well.
Most of the Sharks' greatest road challenges are behind them. There is an April 9 date in Anaheim, but there are no stops in Chicago, Los Angeles, or St. Louis. Nor do they face any of the top four teams in the East.
"He should be real confident right now," McLellan said of Nieto. "He started the year that way, it fell off a bit. He had an injury and went to the minors. But he's been given every opportunity now. He's playing with some very good players. ... He's feeling a lot better around the net."
But McLellan doesn't want Nieto resting on recent laurels.
"It's a great thing for him," the coach said of Nieto's ability to score on rebound shots in Florida and Tampa Bay. "And he has to keep it up now."
Calgary (16-26-7) at Sharks (31-12-6), 7:30 p.m. CSNCA