Season Series: First of two meetings between a team that is coming off a Stanley Cup season and a team that has been a perennial contender but is still trying to reach its first Final. They met at TD Garden in Boston last season and it was a goaltending duel between Antti Niemi and Tim Thomas. Logan Couture's power-play goal in the first period held up and an empty-netter with 2.1 seconds remaining clinched San Jose's 2-0 victory.
Big Story: Neither team currently occupies the place in the standings where it expects to finish in April. The Bruins are in the middle of the pack in the Northeast Division and doing their best to deflect talk of a Stanley Cup hangover. The Sharks are dead last in the Pacific, but they've only played five games. The season itself is just over two weeks old, but due to their slow starts this shapes up as a valuable two points at stake for both sides.
Sharks: On the verge of suffering their fourth loss in five games despite outshooting New Jersey by a wide margin on Friday night, San Jose rallied on a goal by Joe Pavelski with 32.4 seconds left in regulation and prevailed 4-3 via the shootout when Ryane Clowe scored in the third round. Joe Thornton and Clowe scored 1:03 apart in the second period to rally the Sharks from an early 2-0 deficit, and Michal Handzus also had a shootout goal to answer one by Ilya Kovalchuk for the Devils.
"After they scored that third goal, we had a few guys step up on the bench and say, 'You know what, we're going to win this one,'" Clowe said. "At that stage of the game, if your leadership doesn't step up or you write that night off as another tough night, then it's not a good sign. I liked how we stuck with it."
Bruins: It was only a matter of time before the sputtering Boston offense kicked it into gear, and that time happened to be Thursday night against division rival Toronto. The Bruins spotted the Maple Leafs the opening goal of the game, then exploded to score the next six in what ended up a 6-2 victory. Nathan Horton and Zdeno Chara revved up the previously impotent power play by getting the first two goals, while Chara, Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin and Andrew Ference all finished with 3-point nights.
"Obviously you want to get out of that hump I guess, as quick as possible so obviously there's always urgency when things are going like that," said Patrice Bergeron, who scored his first goal of the season. "You want to get out of it [the slump], and we're proud guys and we want to be on top every night, obviously. So right now I think it is a good effort, but we've seen it too often in the past six games, that you have to be consistent and we need to have a good effort on Saturday as well."
Who's Hot: Thornton has 1 goal and 2 assists over his last two games after being held scoreless in the first three the Sharks played. … While the Bruins' offense is only just starting to heat up, goalie Tim Thomas has been in Vezina form since the start, posting a 1.98 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in five starts.
Injury Report: San Jose forward Torrey Mitchell left Friday's game in the opening minute after crashing into the boards on a hit by New Jersey's Nick Palmieri. He didn't return and his status wasn't immediately known. Goalie Antero Niittymaki and forward Frazer McLaren both underwent hip surgery and are on injured reserve, along with goalie Alex Stalock, who is recovering from knee surgery. … Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid has missed the past four games with head and neck injuries after crashing into the boards in a game against Carolina.
Stat Pack: Thornton played his 1,000th NHL game Friday and scored his 307th goal and 1,004th point. … The Bruins had been just 2-for-24 on the power play before going 2-for-5 against the Maple Leafs.
Puck Drop: Boston selected Thornton with the No. 1 pick in the 1997 Entry Draft and he was in his eighth season when San Jose swung a four-player deal to acquire him for forwards Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau and defenseman Brad Stuart.