SAN JOSE -- The Sharks have had enough problems this month scoring goals and winning games with a lineup that was basically intact. Now they will try to snap a two-game losing streak without a former All-Star defenseman and up to three forwards.
Defenseman Brent Burns and winger Ryane Clowe, one of the team's top six forwards, will be missing when the Sharks host the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. Forwards Tommy Wingels and Martin Havlat are questionable.
It isn't an ideal way for the Sharks to open a three-game homestand that, given their monthlong offensive malaise, has taken on greater importance as they try to maintain their playoff position in the Western Conference.
Burns will miss at least the next two games because of a lower-body injury he suffered Saturday against Dallas, Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.
Clowe was suspended two games by the NHL on Monday for coming off the bench against Chicago on Friday during a legal line change to start an altercation with the Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw. Having sat out the Dallas game, Clowe is eligible to return Thursday against Detroit.
"It gives different guys a chance to step up and play a bigger role," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said when asked about potentially losing Clowe for an extended period. "Clowie's a big part of our overall game with his physicality, and he plays in the top six. So it gives someone else a chance to move up and play some big minutes."
Havlat played 19 minutes and 23 seconds against Dallas, the most ice time he has received this season, but he is without a point in his past nine games.
Clowe faced disciplinary action for leaving San Jose's bench with 8.4 seconds left in a 2-1 loss to Chicago on Friday after a hard hit by Shaw on Joe Pavelski.
Clowe was assessed a minor penalty for roughing and a game misconduct for leaving the bench on an illegal line change to start an altercation -- an infraction that carries an automatic 10-game suspension.
But in his report, Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's senior vice president of player safety, said with Sharks goalie Antti Niemi pulled and San Jose in a six-on-five situation, Clowe was identified by McLellan as the next player off the bench should any of his teammates have come off the ice. Shanahan explained that Pavelski had been on the ice for 1 minute
The league determined that Clowe did come off the bench to start an altercation but that it happened during a legal line change. Clowe had a teleconference with Shanahan on Monday after he waived his right to an in-person supplemental disciplinary hearing.
"I like to think I have a pretty good reputation playing the game the right way, playing hard," Clowe said before he learned of the suspension. "When I went into the scrum, I didn't throw any punches, so I don't throw sucker punches and I don't hit guys blindsided or from behind."
While the Sharks know when Clowe will be back and are generally optimistic that Havlat and Wingels will not miss much time, if any, no timetable is set for Burns' return. Burns missed all of training camp and the first 10 games this season because of a lower-body injury, and McLellan could not say if Burns' latest injury is similar to what ailed him earlier this year.
Colorado (7-8-2) at Sharks (8-6-3), 7:30 p.m. CSNCA