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As one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup, the San Jose Sharks have high expectations - which don't include barely getting by the league's only winless team in consecutive games.
The Sharks look for a more complete effort on Friday, when they try to defeat the Florida Panthers for the seventh consecutive time.
After winning the Pacific Division in 2007-08, San Jose (6-1-0) has gotten off to another strong start. The Sharks have earned 12 of a possible 14 points, although they had some trouble in their last two games defeating Philadelphia, which has a league-low three points
After a 5-4 overtime win over the Flyers at HP Pavilion on Saturday, San Jose needed to go to a shootout Wednesday night in Philadelphia before winning 7-6 to complete the home-and-home sweep. Jeremy Roenick and Joe Pavelski scored shootout goals to help the Sharks salvage the victory after blowing a two-goal lead in the third period.
"Deep down we can't be very satisfied with our defensive effort," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "We weren't very happy with the way we played, with the way we turned the puck over."
The Sharks will now try to open with seven wins in eight games for the first time in their 17-year history. They appear to have a good chance, as they've won six straight meetings with the Panthers (3-3-0) since a 3-all tie on March 7, 2001.
San Jose has outscored Florida 30-8 during the winning streak. Patrick Marleau, who had two goals and two assists against the Flyers on Wednesday, has three goals and six assists in those games.
These teams have not met since San Jose's 2-1 victory at Florida on Oct. 31, 2006.
Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has been struggling, going 2-1-0 with a 4.51 goals-against average in his last three starts after opening the season 3-0-0 with a 1.33 GAA. He has been solid against the Panthers, though, posting a 1.75 GAA and one shutout to win his last four starts versus them.
While San Jose is trying to win its third straight game, Florida is looking to win back-to-back contests for the first time in 2008-09.
The Panthers have alternated wins and losses in their first six games, including Wednesday's 3-1 victory over Ottawa.
"As you win games, and we won this game, you get confident that you'll hang in and get the win," center Stephen Weiss told the team's official Web site. "After a while it becomes second nature."
To win again, Florida could use the type of defensive effort it had Wednesday. The Panthers have allowed three goals in their victories, but 15 in their losses.
Thomas Vokoun is expected to be back in net for this contest after backup Craig Anderson made 41 saves - including 38 in the final two periods - against the Senators.
Although the Panthers have had no luck against the Sharks lately, Vokoun has enjoyed plenty of success against them. Vokoun, who played for Nashville from 1998-2007, is 9-1-1 with a 2.28 GAA and one shutout in his last 11 games versus San Jose.