Ducks-Sharks Preview

The San Jose Sharks carried plenty of momentum into the holiday
weekend. A home matchup against the woeful Anaheim Ducks could help
them pick up right where they left off.

On the verge of matching its longest winning streak of the
season, San Jose looks to extend Anaheim’s franchise-worst road
losing streak to 14 games Monday night.

Since posting a 2-5-2 record from Nov. 26-Dec. 13, San Jose
(19-10-3) has won four straight behind an average of 4.0 goals and
strong goaltending from Antti Niemi.

Niemi, 10-2-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average over his last 12
home games, made 28 saves during Friday’s 2-1 shootout win over Los
Angeles.

“Going in (to the Christmas break) with a win was important,”
said coach Todd McLellan, whose team won a season-high five
straight Oct. 21-29. “We’re starting to feel a little bit better
about ourselves again. It’s something we want to maintain coming
back on the 26th.”

A visit from the Ducks (9-19-6) might help the Sharks do just
that.

Though Anaheim has taken three straight in this series,
including two this season in mid-October, it has been outscored
45-22 during an 0-9-4 skid on the road. The Ducks’ 24 points are
the second-fewest in the league, ahead of only Columbus (22).

Anaheim has dropped four straight and 15 of 18 overall following
Thursday’s 3-2 shootout loss at Los Angeles.

“We are a little desperate at this point,” said captain Ryan
Getzlaf, pointless in three of his last four games.

While there doesn’t seem to be anything pointing to a
significant turnaround, new coach Bruce Boudreau thinks getting
back on track starts with the team’s mental state.

“The difference between winning and losing sometimes is just the
attitude and believing you’re going to win or believing you’re
going to lose,” Boudreau, 2-6-2 since taking over, told the team’s
official website.

Jonas Hiller made 32 saves versus the Kings, dropping to 1-7-5
on the road. Hiller turned away 31 shots in a 1-0 victory over the
Sharks on Oct. 14 for his lone shutout of the season, and Dan Ellis
made 41 saves three days later in a 3-2 victory at San Jose.

Hiller has surrendered two goals in each of his five career
starts at San Jose but has gone 2-3-0.

Joe Thornton has 14 points over his last seven home meetings
with the Ducks, but the Sharks captain only has one goal in his
past 16 games overall.

Center Logan Couture has been held without a point in his last
six meetings with Anaheim, but he’s totaled 11 in as many games
this month (eight goals, three assists).

Niemi has gone 3-3-0 with a 2.19 GAA lifetime versus
Anaheim.

Though things are certainly looking up for the Sharks, their
short-handed efforts are somewhat of a concern. San Jose has given
up nine power-play goals in 31 chances (29.0 percent) over its last
10 games.

“We have to get the kill when we get a chance,” forward Joe
Pavelski said. “We’re not satisfied with giving one up. That’s not
how we are and we can’t be like that. (We can’t) say ‘we weren’t in
good spots, it didn’t happen for us,’ – it has to happen.”