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Sharks assign duo to NHL to make room for vets

Forwards Mike Grier and Claude Lemieux are returning to the San Jose Sharks' lineup just in time for their final push for the Presidents' Trophy.

Neither veteran had played in 17 games since March 3 for the Sharks, who entered Tuesday night's game at Colorado with a three-point lead on Boston for the NHL's best record.

Grier, a penalty-killing specialist whose absence was keenly felt in the Sharks' special teams, was out with a knee injury. He has 22 points in 59 games this season.

The 43-year-old Lemieux sat out with an upper-body injury. He has just one assist in 16 games since his NHL comeback following a 51/2-year absence, but has been a valuable physical presence on San Jose's fourth line.

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The Sharks reassigned forwards Brad Staubitz and Jamie McGinn to their top affiliate in Worcester, Mass., to make room for the veterans. Staubitz attempted to fill Lemieux's agitating role with three points and 76 penalty minutes in 35 games this season, while McGinn had four goals and two assists in 35 games.

The Sharks are still without captain Patrick Marleau, who missed their last three games with a lower-body injury, and high-scoring forward Ryane Clowe, who has been out since March 19 with a lower-body injury. Both players are expected to return to San Jose's top two lines before the playoffs begin next weekend.

San Jose could clinch the league's best record and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs with wins in its final three games against Colorado, Phoenix and Los Angeles -- the Western Conference's three worst teams.

The Sharks also hope to get a contribution from defenseman Kent Huskins, who still hasn't suited up for them since arriving in a trade with Anaheim in early March. Huskins had foot surgery earlier in the season, but has resumed skating with the team.