After concluding their road trip with two more points, the San Jose Sharks are surely looking forward to their first home game in nearly a month.
While the Sharks would appear to have a favorable matchup against slumping Carolina, the Hurricanes have given them fits of late.
Looking to continue its domination on home ice, San Jose tries to avoid a fourth consecutive loss to Carolina on Tuesday night.
The Sharks (39-17-6) are seeking a fifth win in six games after beating New Jersey 4-2 on Sunday. Patrick Marleau had two points and rookie Matthew Nieto scored the go-ahead goal 6:20 into the third period as San Jose closed a 2-1-0- trek.
"Whenever you get a chance to be in the lineup, you have to have a positive impact and that’s something I try to do whenever I am in," said Nieto, who was a healthy scratch two days earlier in a 4-2 loss at Buffalo. "We knew if we won the third period, we were going to win the game. It’s a great way to end the road trip."
The Sharks now return home, where they have gone a Western Conference-best 22-4-3 while allowing just 1.9 goals per contest. Their last home game came all the way back on Feb. 7, a 3-2 win over Columbus in their final contest before the Olympic break.
While San Jose has proven nearly unbeatable on its own ice, it hasn’t been able to solve Carolina (26-26-9). The Sharks are 1-4-1 over their last six meetings against the Hurricanes after a 5-3 road loss Dec. 6.
Hurricanes rookie Elias Lindholm had a season high-tying three points in that game, and Jay Harrison, Jordan Staal and Riley Nash each added a goal and an assist. Captain Eric Staal also scored, giving him two goals and two assists during the Hurricanes’ three-game winning streak in the series.
Another victory could be hard to come by, though. Carolina has been outscored 19-8 during a season worst-tying five-game skid, with each of those losses coming in regulation.
The Hurricanes’ struggles were on full display in Sunday’s 5-3 loss at Anaheim. Cam Ward allowed the game’s first five goals before Andrej Sekera finally got Carolina on the board with 4:40 left in the second period.
Patrick Dwyer and Alexander Semin went on to score in the third as the Hurricanes outshot the Ducks 26-8 over the final 20 minutes. Carolina recorded a season-high 52 shots, 18 more than Carolina.
"We know we’re a good team when we get going. We showed it in the third, but we didn’t show it in the first and that’s what hurt us," forward Nathan Gerbe told the NHL’s official website. "It was tough. When you go down like that early, it’s hard to fight back. I thought we did what we could. I’d like to score a bit more on 52 shots."
Ward, playing in his second game since Dec. 31 after missing time with a lower-body injury, finished with 29 saves. He is 1-4-1 with a 3.97 goals-against average in his last six starts.
"I’m sure there’s a couple that he’d say he’d like to have back," coach Kirk Muller said of Ward. "(He needs) to get that confidence level up again. It’s a catch-22 because the other guy’s (Anton Khudobin) been playing so well."
Khudobin has suffered a career-worst three straight defeats, but he has allowed three goals or fewer in each of his 21 starts since getting called up Dec. 31, going 13-7-0 with a 2.15 GAA.
Ward is 3-1-0 despite a 3.50 GAA versus San Jose. Khudobin has never faced the Sharks.