Sharks-Canucks Preview

The Vancouver Canucks are beginning a season-long six-game

homestand against a team that has been rather comfortable taking

the ice at Rogers Arena this calendar year.

The San Jose Sharks look to make it five straight wins in

Vancouver on Thursday night.

San Jose has won all four games in Vancouver in 2013, including

two victories as part of a sweep in the Western Conference

quarterfinals.

Overall, the Sharks are 9-1-0 against the Canucks (11-7-2) in

the 2013 calendar year. The teams have played three times this

season with the Sharks (11-2-5) winning the first two before their

nine-game win streak in the series was snapped with a 4-2 home loss

last Thursday.

Vancouver, though, has been outscored 8-2 in dropping two

straight since that victory, including Sunday’s 3-1 defeat at

Anaheim.

“It’s been a struggle the past two games here,” said coach John

Tortorella, whose team hasn’t lost three in a row this season. “We

know what they are as players, we know what they are as people, and

they are going to be the players we know they are. They are going

to bounce out of it.”

The Canucks have played three straight games without a point

from either Henrik or Daniel Sedin for the first time since

January, the second week of the lockout-shortened season.

Henrik had at least a point in 12 straight prior to the last

three and had gone just one game without a point. Daniel had at

least one in seven straight before the drought.

On a positive note, their penalty kill has remained stellar.

They’ve killed 22 straight and are operating at a league-best 89.4

percent.

Their power play, however, ranks 28th in the league at 9.7

percent.

The Sharks’ special teams both rank in the top 10. They’ve

scored on three of their last eight power-play chances, and they’ve

put themselves in just 54 short-handed situations, which is tied

for fourth fewest in the league.

After going winless in five straight (0-1-4), the Sharks got

back on track Tuesday with a 3-2 win at Calgary.

Brad Stuart’s overtime goal ended the skid after the Sharks blew

a 2-0 lead entering the third period.

“We’ve had a lot of close games and just haven’t been able to

finish it,” Stuart said. “Tonight, we let them back in it and we

shouldn’t have but for us to get the points, it’ll be a good

positive for us moving forward.”

At 6-1-3 on the road, they’re one of four teams with just one

road loss in regulation.

The Sharks outshot the Flames 35-13 and their 37.1 per game lead

the league by a full three shots. Only three teams in NHL history

have sustained an average of 37.0 or higher for an entire regular

season. The Sharks averaged a franchise-best 34.5 in 2010-11.

Their 3.61 goals per game is also tops in the league while their

2.17 goals against ranks fifth.

Including playoffs, San Jose’s Antti Niemi is 9-1-0 with a 1.94

goals-against average against the Canucks since Jan. 27.

Roberto Luongo, meanwhile, is 1-4-0 in his last six games – five

starts – against the Sharks.