Season Series: This is the fourth of six meetings between the California rivals. The Sharks are a perfect 3-0 so far by outscoring Anaheim, 11-4, in the three previous meetings as they try to avenge last season's first-round upset at the hand of these very same Ducks.
Big Story: The standings show the Ducks as the last-place team in the Pacific Division, but they have started to turn in the right direction of late. However, they still can't seem to solve the Sharks, the team they tormented in a six-game series victory last season. Will Saturday be the night they finally do?
Ducks: A 4-0 loss at Phoenix was not exactly the way the Ducks wanted to go into the mini-holiday break. They were feeling good with wins in four of their previous five games, including two straight and that improbable comeback from two goals down in the last eight minutes inColorado on Tuesday. However, the flop in Phoenix sent them into Christmas again wondering if they are good enough to be a playoff team. Jonas Hiller was pulled with just under eight minutes to play, marking the first time he was pulled from a game since Oct. 17. Still, if you track back to before thePhoenix flop, you'll see that the Ducks have played a lot better of late. They have points in eight of their last 10 games.
"I think we know what our potential is now," goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere told the Orange County Register. "As a team, we realize what we can do and how well we can play. We're at a point here at Christmas time where we need to reach that potential every night. We're desperate right now."
Sharks: While most of the League had only two days off, the Sharks haven't played since Tuesday's exciting 3-2 victory in Chicago, where they won despite being outshot 47-14. They haven't played or practiced since that night in the Windy City, so it'll be interesting to see if they are a little sluggish out of the gate tonight. Odds are that won't be the case because the Sharks are still trying to get rid of the sting of last season's playoff defeat to the Ducks. They've beaten them three times this season, but it's not enough -- at least, not yet. The Sharks have won three straight after an 0-2-3 stretch. However, that game inChicago stuck in their craws just a little bit because of how badly outplayed they were. Evgeni Nabokov saved the day.
"We're happy that we got the points," coach Todd McLellan told the San Jose Mercury News, "but I think when the coaches sit back and they look at the video and you know you stole one, it's not always as gratifying as knowing you played real well in getting the win."
Who's Hot: Sharks center Joe Thornton, the League's leading scorer, has points in six games (3-8-11) and 16 of the last 17 games (6-23-29). Dany Heatley has four points (1-3) in the last two games. Dan Boyle is on a seven-game points streak (1-6-7). Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf had a four-game goal scoring streak snapped inPhoenix on Wednesday. And, Bobby Ryan had a seven-game point streak snapped.
Injury Report: The Ducks are still without Teemu Selanne (broken hand), Joffrey Lupul (back surgery) and Ryan Carter (broken right foot). The Sharks are waiting for Brad Staubitz (face) and Jody Shelley (hand) to get healthy.
Stat Pack: In the three meetings against the Ducks this season, Thornton has four goals and four assists for eight points while Marleau has two goals and three assists and Heatley has a goal and three assists. Nabokov has stopped 72 of 76 shots.
Puck Drop: "I don't know if you can ever feel if you're at one point or another," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle told the Orange County Register. "We're .500. We're not in the playoffs. So our goal is to continue to try to give ourselves the best opportunity. I think that has to be our mindset."