SHARKS (11-2-5) at CANUCKS (11-7-2)
TV: CSN-CA, SNET-VAN
Last 10: San Jose 4-2-4; Vancouver 6-3-1
Season series: This is the fourth and final matchup between the San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver won the most recent meeting last Thursday in San Jose, 4-2, to snap a streak of nine straight losses to the Sharks in the regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Big story: With two postseason meetings in the past three seasons, this heated rivalry gathered even more steam this season with San Jose and Vancouver moving to the Pacific Division. Expect another hard-fought game Thursday; the Canucks and Sharks look to relocate their footing in the crowded divisional standings.
San Jose was winless in five games before an overtime defeat of the Calgary Flames on Tuesday. Vancouver, after going 1-2-1 on a four-game road swing in which the lone win came against the Sharks, returns home for a season-long six-game homestand.
Sharks: During the 2012-13 season, San Jose reeled off a perfect 7-0-0 record in January before dropping its next seven games. This season, the Sharks again dominated out of the gate and finished October with a League-leading 22 points. Since then, it’s been a tough road reminiscent of last season. Injuries to wingers Brent Burns, Adam Burish and Raffi Torres, atypical lapses from goaltender Antti Niemi and an inefficient power play resulted in five straight winless games, four of which went past regulation.
The Sharks managed to right the ship in Calgary on Tuesday, though it took overtime to do so. San Jose scored twice in the opening period, one via the power play, but allowed Calgary to even it with two goals in the third. Brad Stuart scored the overtime winner 1:13 into the extra period.
"We've kind of been having a lot of those types of games where we go into overtime, a shootout and we don't come out with the second point," Stuart said. "It's nice to get it. … It'll be a good positive for us moving forward.”
Canucks: To say a team lives and dies by one line is usually a stretch, but it may be the best way to describe the Canucks at the moment. The top line of Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler went on a tear in mid-October, combining for 14 goals and 18 assists over a 10-game stretch. However, on the recent road trip against some of the Pacific’s best, including the Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, the line combined for a goal and three assists over a four-game stretch.
"It's been a struggle," Canucks coach John Tortorella said of the line. "We know what they are as people. We know what they are as players. It's been a struggle the past two, three games here. They're going to bounce out of it and they're going to be the players that we know they are."
Who’s hot: Sharks captain Joe Thornton has a goal and five assists over a five-game point streak.
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