Sharks-Hurricanes Preview

The San Jose Sharks are trying to get untracked, and they look

more like one of the best teams in the NHL.

Jeff Skinner and the Carolina Hurricanes are just looking for a

third straight win.

The visiting Sharks attempt to rebound from one of their most

lopsided defeats of the season Friday night against the

Hurricanes.

San Jose (19-4-5) is atop the Pacific Division and only one

point behind NHL-leading Chicago.

The Sharks didn’t look much like one of the league’s top teams

Thursday, giving up four goals in a row in the opening 7:30 of the

second period on the way to a 5-1 loss at Pittsburgh. They had won

six straight games, while outscoring opponents 24-12.

“It was more our mistakes than what they did right,” center

Logan Couture said. “We weren’t ourselves. We weren’t moving pucks.

We were turning it over. In the neutral zone we weren’t good. I

think it was more us than them.”

Despite the subpar performance against the Penguins, Joe

Thornton extended his point streak with an assist on rookie Tomas

Hertl’s team-leading 14th goal.

Thornton has nine points over his last seven games, and adding

at least one at Carolina would give him his longest point streak

since a 10-game run from Nov. 14-Dec. 3, 2009.

The captain has nine points over his last seven visits to

Raleigh, but he was held off the score sheet in a 3-2 loss in the

most recent matchup Feb. 17, 2012.

San Jose has dropped four of its last five road meetings with

the Hurricanes (12-12-5), and those struggles may continue if they

can’t find a way to slow down Skinner.

The left wing and 2011 Calder Trophy winner has 17 points in 18

games on the season, getting five goals and one assist in the past

two contests.

Skinner’s latest performance was one of the finest of his

career, netting his first hat trick to power the Hurricanes to a

5-2 win at Nashville on Thursday.

“He’s shooting the puck,” coach Kirk Muller said of Skinner’s

recent surge. “He’s a goal scorer when he shoots the puck. He can

score when he gets those opportunities, so he’s working for

it.”

Skinner has one goal and one assist in two career meetings with

the Sharks, finding the net in the most recent matchup.

Justin Faulk also had a goal in that meeting. The defenseman has

two goals and four assists over the past six games and recorded his

first three-point game Thursday, including a goal in the opening 23

seconds.

“Any time you can establish good play or good momentum early in

the game, let alone a goal, is always huge,” Faulk said. “You don’t

go into the game expecting to score on your first shift or your

first shot on net, but obviously when you do that it kind of gives

your team a little bit of a boost.”

Carolina could use another as it tries to win three straight

games for the first time since a four-game winning streak from Feb.

28-March 5.

Justin Peters has started each of the last two games, stopping

46 of 49 shots. He made 35 saves against the Sharks on Feb. 17,

2012.

That may be enough to get the nod over Cam Ward, who has a 3.67

goals-against average while winning two of three meetings with San

Jose.

Ward has lost his last two games while allowing eight goals on

61 shots.