The San Jose Sharks likely do not have enough games left on their schedule to make a move into the top half of the Pacific Division, but coach David Quinn’s club is showing signs of improved play and good results.

Riding in seventh place in the eight-team division, the Sharks will host the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night to conclude their season series.

Across their past six matches, the Sharks earned points on five occasions and posted a 3-1-2 mark. The victories were especially encouraging considering whom they came against — the Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals, all on the road.

The Sharks, who play eight of their next nine games at home, set the tone by beating the Penguins 6-4 in the final game before the All-Star break then returned from it to take down the Lightning 4-3 in overtime on Timo Meier’s game-winning tally.

On Sunday in the nation’s capital, San Jose got goals from Evgeny Svechnikov and Alexander Barabanov for a 2-0 lead near the contest’s halfway point. NHL top-scoring defenseman Erik Karlsson (goal, two assists) and Tomas Hertl (empty-netter) rounded out the 4-1 margin of victory.

A two-time Norris Trophy winner, the Swedish-born Karlsson has 18 goals and 55 assists in 54 games and will get more votes when the hardware is handed out in the summer. His coach thinks the choice for the top blueliner is pretty obvious.

“This is a legit Norris Trophy winner,” said Quinn said after Karlsson, 32, skated a game-high 24:07 against the Capitals. “There’s not a better defenseman in the league right now. I know the points get a lot attention as they should, but (also) all these other things you need a defenseman to do for the most part he’s done throughout the season.”

San Jose starting goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen left the game after being accidentally struck in the head by Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov after scoring late in the second period. Aaron Dell replaced him and denied all eight shots.

After a rough Saturday night in Los Angeles against the Kings, Pittsburgh will be trying to get back on track in their quick rematch after losing on home ice to San Jose on Jan. 28.

The Penguins were totally dominated by Los Angeles in a 6-0 blowout. They fell behind 2-0 in the first period, surrendered three more markers in the second and failed to score in their worst defeat of the season. Their previous worse losses were 5-1 road setbacks against the Vancouver Canucks and New York Islanders.

The only remarkable moment for Pittsburgh may have been star center Sidney Crosby receiving the first game misconduct of his 1,160-game NHL career. The 20 minutes in penalties were the second-most for him in a game.

Crosby, a two-time Hart Trophy winner, was ejected after arguing with referee Garrett Rank.

“I mean, can I really say what I think anyway? Let’s be honest here,” said Crosby afterward, showing considerable restraint.

Los Angeles’ Adrian Kempe scored four consecutive goals as the Kings avenged a 6-1 walloping in Pittsburgh on Oct. 20.

“I thought we had a decent start,” Crosby said. “It came down to giving up too many good chances. Once you get down, it is hard to get back.”

–Field Level Media