The Anaheim Ducks hope the Christmas break will have been enough to bounce back from a bad game and continue their domination of the league this season.
The Ducks make their second stop on a season high-tying five-game road trip at HP Pavilion on Tuesday when they meet the San Jose Sharks in a matchup of the Pacific Division's top two teams.
Anaheim (27-5-6) and San Jose (25-11-0) have split two meetings this season with each winning on its home ice. The Ducks lead the Western Conference with 134 goals this season, but haven't scored more than three in any of their last nine visits to San Jose dating back to March 2003.
Despite a 2-0 loss to Phoenix on Saturday, Anaheim entered the break with 60 points. That's the fifth-most in NHL history through 38 games, tying the Montreal Canadiens' mark in 1975-76 and 1976-77 that started a run of four straight Stanley Cups.
"We have a very nice chemistry," said Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who leads the league with 23 wins and is third with a 2.12 goals-against average. "Most of the guys were back from last year, they know their roles real well on the ice and they know what the coaching staff is expecting from them.
Giguere made 23 saves in a 5-0 win over the Sharks on Nov. 21. But in the loss to the Coyotes - the last-place team in the Pacific - he gave up goals 13 seconds apart to Shane Doan and Fredrik Sjostrom.
"We didn't do the things that make us successful and by not doing that we didn't put pressure on them and gave them confidence," Giguere said. "Instead of making the tempo ourselves and making the simple play we tried making the hard play. Every time we did that we turned the puck over."
It also marked the first time this season in which the Ducks lost two straight in regulation on the road. Anaheim lost 4-3 at San Jose on Dec. 16 when the Sharks' Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo scored just over five minutes apart late in the third period to erase a one-goal deficit.
Former Hart and Norris Trophy winner Chris Pronger has a goal and two assists in two games against San Jose this season. The Anaheim blue liner leads all defensemen this season with 38 points, and 18 of his 31 assists have come on the power play.
The Sharks have the third-most points (50) in the West, but still trail the Ducks by 10 points. San Jose has alternated wins and losses in its last five games, including a 4-1 win over Calgary on Saturday.
Marcel Goc, Milan Michalek, Mark Smith and Scott Hannan scored goals and Evgeni Nabokov made 21 saves in the victory.
"We came out flat in our last game but we bounced back with a solid effort," said Smith, who also had an assist. "As the game wore on they might have slowed down a bit."
San Jose has allowed only 77 goals this season, tying it with Detroit for fewest in the league. Coach Ron Wilson has rotated his goaltenders in 2006-07, meaning Vesa Toskala should be in net for this contest.
Toskala is 14-5-0 with 2.20 GAA, but has struggled in his last two starts at home, giving up a total of seven goals in losses to Los Angeles and Dallas. After starting the season with five straight wins at HP Pavilion, Toskala is 1-3-0 with a 3.02 GAA there.
He's allowed three goals in each of two career starts against the Ducks, winning his only outing against them at home.
|Apr 04 '07||SJS 3 at ANA 2 - SO||R. Clowe|
|Mar 02 '07||SJS 1 at ANA 3||C. Kunitz|
|Feb 26 '07||ANA 3 at SJS 2||T. Selanne|
|Feb 07 '07||SJS 3 at ANA 2||M. Michalek|
|Feb 06 '07||ANA 7 at SJS 4||D. Penner|
|Dec 26 '06||ANA 4 at SJS 3||C. Perry|
|Dec 16 '06||ANA 3 at SJS 4||J. Thornton|
|Nov 21 '06||SJS 0 at ANA 5||C. Pronger|