Sharks-Hurricanes Preview

In the midst of a nine-game road stretch, the San Jose Sharks

know they can’t afford to let any games slip away.

The Pacific Division-leading Sharks look to bounce back from a

frustrating defeat when they visit the lowly Carolina Hurricanes on

Friday night.

San Jose (31-17-7) opened its longest trip of the season by

losing 3-0 to St. Louis on Sunday but followed with a 5-3 win over

Washington the next night. The Sharks, however, failed to hold an

early third-period lead en route to a 6-5 overtime loss to Tampa

Bay on Thursday.

All-Star Logan Couture had a goal with an assist and Antti Niemi

made 19 saves as San Jose lost for the fourth time in six

games.

“(Tampa Bay) scored four goals on net play, rebounds, picking up

the garbage, wraparounds, jams,” coach Todd McLellan said. “That’s

our ‘D’ men. That’s our low forwards. So everybody has some

responsibility, but (Niemi) knows he has to be better.”

The Sharks would like to play better against Carolina

(21-25-11), which has won three of four in the series. San Jose,

however, won 5-1 in its last trip to Raleigh on Nov. 1, 2009.

Couture, who has six goals and 10 assists in his last 11 games,

had an assist at Carolina two seasons ago. Joe Thornton had two

assists in that contest and has 11 with four goals in the last 11

overall.

The Sharks could have their latest addition on the ice for this

contest after veteran Dominic Moore was acquired from the Lightning

prior to Thursday’s game. A gritty center, Moore had four goals and

15 assists in 56 games with Tampa Bay this season.

“Dominic is an extremely versatile player that has performed in

a lot of important playoff games the last two years,” general

manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. “We feel that he is a

great fit in several areas and his veteran presence will benefit

our team greatly.”

While San Jose eagerly awaits Moore’s debut, Carolina will be

without leading goal scorer Tuomo Ruutu for at least three weeks

due to an unspecified upper body injury suffered during Monday’s

5-3 win at Montreal. Ruutu has 17 goals and is tied for second on

the team with 30 points.

“With Ruuts out, it’s obviously going to hurt us because he’s

been playing really well, but it’s the same old story – we can’t

make any excuses,” coach Kirk Muller told the Hurricanes’ official

website. “We just have to find another guy that can jump in and

fill the spot.”

Though the Hurricanes’ 53 points are the fewest in the Eastern

Conference, they are in the midst of a 3-0-2 stretch. Eric Staal

had two goals with an assist as Carolina rallied for three

unanswered third-period goals against the Canadiens.

“In the beginning we were losing these types of games by a goal.

Now we’re finding ways to get a point, two points,” Muller said.

“Our leaders are really leading this team right now. I really like

the way we’re playing right now.”

Staal, who has four goals with two assists in the last three

games, has three goals and two assists in six career contests

versus San Jose.