TV: CSN-CA (HD), FS-CR (HD)
LAST 10: San Jose 5-3-2; Carolina 5-1-4
Season Series: This is the only meeting of the season. In their last meeting, back on Oct. 19, 2010, Carolina won 5-2 at HP Pavilion.
Big Story: The Sharks will look to get back in the win column when they visit the RBC Center in the fourth of a nine-game road trip. San Jose is four points clear of second-place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division, and a win against bottom-of-the-East Carolina would help widen that gap. Carolina, home after a 5-3 win in Montreal and far out of the playoff race, will be more than happy to play the role of villain.
Sharks: There's been a little bit of everything so far on San Jose's current road odyssey. On Sunday, St. Louis shut out the Sharks 3-0 out at Scottrade Center. San Jose bounced back the next night with a 5-3 win at Washington. Thursday's game in Tampa Bay was a rollicking affair that went to the Bolts, 6-5, when Martin St. Louis scored the OT winner. It is clear that with 11 goals in two games, San Jose has rediscovered its scoring touch since leaving St. Louis. On defense, however, there are still question marks.
"He wasn't any good," coach Todd McLellan said about starting goalie Antti Niemi. "I protect him a lot and talk about the team. He has to be better, flat-out has to be better. They scored four goals on net play, rebounds, picking up the garbage, wraparounds, jams. That's our D men. That's our low forwards. So everybody has some responsibility, but (Niemi) knows he has to be better."
Hurricanes: While San Jose will be playing the latter of a back-to-back on Friday, Carolina will enter the game on three days' rest. The 'Canes haven't seen action since Monday, when a 5-3 win in Montreal continued a streak of five games in which Carolina has come away with points. The 'Canes exhibited a killer instinct too rarely seen this season, scoring two goals - one shorthanded, one on the power play - early in the third to tie it, then take the lead. Instead of caving under late Montreal pressure, Carolina remained stout until Eric Staal eventually found the empty net to seal it.
"In the beginning we were losing these types of games by a goal. Now we're finding ways to get a point, two points," coach Kirk Muller said. "Our leaders are really leading this team right now. I really like the way we're playing right now."
Who's Hot: Staal has 4 goals and 2 assists in his last three games. … San Jose's Logan Couture has a goal and three assists in his last two games.
Injury Report : A couple of key Carolina attackers are expected to miss Friday's contest. Chad LaRose is doubtful with an upper-body injury, while Tuomo Ruutu will miss three weeks with an upper-body injury. Goalie Brian Boucher is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury. … For San Jose, defenseman Jason Demers is on injured reserve with a charley horse, and Martin Havlat is still a long way from returning after left hamstring surgery.
Stat Pack: If the 'Canes can't stay out of the penalty box, it could be a long night in Raleigh. Carolina is 28th on the penalty-kill (77.8 percent) in the League, while San Jose converts man advantages 21.2 percent of the time, good for fourth. The Sharks are 4-for-9 on the power play in their last two games.
Puck Drop: McLellan didn't hold anything back when offering an assessment of his team's loss Thursday night.
"The six we gave up all night were disheartening," he said. "That's as poor as we've played all season. Our net play was just atrocious. I'm really disappointed in our group because they're much better than that."