Sharks-Ducks Preview

The Anaheim Ducks entered the first game of a home-and-home set

with the San Jose Sharks riding a 10-game winning streak and

holding a seven-point lead in the Pacific Division.

After the Sharks’ 3-1 victory Sunday ended the Ducks’ run, San

Jose has a chance to close the gap further while winning a fifth

straight contest in Tuesday night’s road meeting.

“A huge two games,” said Sharks captain Joe Thornton, whose

825th career assist tied him for 25th on the all-time list. “These

four points are huge. They’re kind of running away with our

division right now and we kind of grabbed them and brought them

back a little bit. Tuesday’s going to be another huge game against

them so we’ll be ready.”

San Jose (25-8-6) won three straight shootouts before Brent

Burns, Logan Couture and Bracken Kearns scored Sunday. Kearns, a

32-year-old with nearly 600 minor league games under his belt,

scored his first NHL goal in his eighth career game.

”That’s a great story, isn’t it?” coach Todd McLellan asked.

”There’s also a lesson in it about believing in yourself and

persevering.”

Couture’s goal was the 100th of his career and ended an 11-game

drought.

“It’s about time. Forgot what it felt like,” Couture said. “It’s

a big number. I was stuck on 99 for a while. But it’s definitely

special and one I’ll remember.”

The Sharks, who beat Anaheim 4-3 in a shootout on Nov. 30 in the

first meeting and have won four straight in the series, trail the

Ducks (28-8-5) by five points with two games in hand.

Pat Maroon scored Sunday for Anaheim, which went 11-0-2 over its

previous 13 and hadn’t lost since falling 3-2 in a shootout to Los

Angeles on Dec. 3.

“It’s pretty special,” defenseman Cam Fowler said of the streak.

“It’s something that doesn’t happen often. You’re playing against

the best players in the world, so to be able to do that as a group,

you should be proud of it.

“You’re going to lose eventually. It can’t go on forever, but we

can’t be satisfied with that. And losing this one, this was a big

game for us.”

The Ducks, who failed to convert their only opportunity with the

man advantage, are 0 for 21 on the power play over their last

eight. They’ve been outscored 5-1 in the first 20 minutes over

their last four.

”We should have known and played better in the first period,”

coach Bruce Boudreau said Sunday. ”We didn’t meet their push

early.”

Anaheim seeks a better start at home, where it has won four

straight. The Ducks’ 14-0-2 mark at Honda Center makes them the

only team yet to lose a home game in regulation.

Frederik Andersen made 20 saves Sunday and is 9-2-0 with a 1.98

goals-against average in 10 starts and one relief appearance,

though Jonas Hiller is expected to be back in net for this

contest.

Hiller won eight times during Anaheim’s winning streak while

posting a 1.84 GAA, but he’s 0-1-2 with a 2.84 GAA in his last

three versus San Jose.

The Sharks could counter with Antti Niemi, who has won his last

four starts with a 1.72 GAA against the Ducks.

It’s unclear if San Jose center Tommy Wingels will play. He left

in the first period Sunday after slamming his head into the

boards.