Paths of Pacific Division powers Ducks, Sharks merge again Tuesday night
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks entered the Christmas break riding different waves of momentum.
On Tuesday night, the paths of the Pacific Division powers will merge again at Honda Center.
The Sharks won two in a row and six of seven heading into the break. They beat visiting Edmonton in overtime Friday to move into first place in the Pacific, one point ahead of the second-place Oilers and three in front of Anaheim.
"We talked as a group about finishing strong going into the Christmas break, and they've earned it," San Jose coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. "We haven't had an easy schedule, but we got contributions from almost the entire organization to get here."
The Ducks dropped their last two contests and went 2-3-1 on a six-game 10-day road trip that culminated with Thursday's 2-1 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators.
Anaheim owns the momentum in this series, however, beating the Sharks twice in the previous 31 days, both by the score of 3-2.
The Ducks hosted the Sharks on Dec. 9 and came away with the win after defenseman Hampus Lindholm scored his only goal this season with 5:38 remaining, giving Anaheim a 60-59-11 edge in the all-time series. The other win came Nov. 26 in San Jose.
San Jose got on a roll following last season's Christmas break, going 29-15-4 to finish third in the Pacific and advance all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.
Brent Burns continues to be on pace to match his offensive numbers from last season, entering this game with 13 goals and 32 points after putting up career highs of 27 goals and 75 points in his 12th year in the NHL. Burns is on pace to become the first defenseman since Bobby Orr to record 30 goals and 70 points with at least 350 shots on goal in a season.
Joe Pavelski has also put up offensive numbers consistent with recent seasons, but the two 37-year-old stars for the Sharks, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, are showing signs of a decline.
Marleau, in his 19th season, has totaled nine goals and four assists in 34 games this season, well off the 25 goals and 27 assists he posted in the 2015-16 regular season. Thornton has two goals and 21 assists coming into this game after totaling 19 goals and 63 assists last season.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf continues to go the direction of Thornton and be much more of a set-up man than finisher.
Getzlaf has four goals in 32 games, but he has 24 assists to stand as the team's points leader. Getzlaf, who has finished at plus-14 or above in the last four seasons, is minus-7. The only year he finished in the negative was 2011-12 (minus-7), when the Ducks finished last in the Pacific and current coach Randy Carlyle was fired early in the season.
Getzlaf's longtime linemate, Corey Perry, has experienced a more drastic drop in production, as the 31-year-old right wing has seven goals after totaling 34, 33 and 43 in each of the previous three seasons. Perry went all of November without scoring a goal and has three in December.
Rickard Rakell has picked up some of the scoring void, scoring a team-high 14 goals in just 24 games this season following his holdout for a new contract.
These teams won't meet again March 18 in San Jose.