A rivalry is renewed tonight as the league-leading Ducks (28-7-5, 61 points) bring a club-record 10-game winning streak into San Jose for a game against the Sharks (24-8-6, 54 points) at the SAP Center (7:30 p.m. PT, Prime Ticket, AM 830).
The Ducks are coming off a 3-2 overtime victory last night against the Phoenix Coyotes at Honda Center. Fueled by Saku Koivu’s two-goal, three-point night, Anaheim improved to 14-0-2 at home this season, marking the best home start in club history, joining tonight’s opponent, San Jose (20-0-2, 2008-09), as the only NHL teams to go through its first 16 home games without a regulation defeat (since 2005-06 implementation of shootouts). The Ducks remain the only club in the NHL that has not lost in regulation at home this season. Head coach Bruce Boudreau reflected on his team’s 10-game winning streak.
“I think it's neat," he said. “Anytime you can get to be part of something that nobody else has done, I think it's a special occasion. I don't make light of it. I think No. 10 is magic when you get into streaks, because it doesn't happen very often.”
Tonight will be the conclusion of the team’s seventh set of back-to-backs. The Ducks have fared well in these situations, going 9-2-2 overall and 4-0-2 in the second game.
Their opponent will be without the services of forwards Martin Havlat (lower body) and rookie Tomas Hertl (knee), as the Ducks bring a six-game road-winning streak into tonight’s game, just one shy of the club record (7, Nov. 28-Dec. 13, 2006).
“You have to make do with what you have,” said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. “And we're trying to find ways to win games, one at a time, night after night.”
The line of Koivu, Andrew Cogliano and Daniel Winnik has combined for 10 points (5g/5a) with a +12 rating over the last two games. Koivu has recorded five points (3g/2a) in his last two games and seven points (4g/3a) in his last five. The 39-year-old scored both his 10th career overtime goal and 11th career shorthanded goal last night vs. Phoenix. In addition, it marked his 26th career multi-goal game and first since Jan. 10, 2012 vs. Dallas (hat trick). Cogliano is riding a two-game goal streak (2g/1a) and has points in three of his last five games (2g/4a). In addition, Winnik is coming off a two-assist game last night and has earned assists in three of his last five contests (4a).
Tonight’s game won’t necessarily be decided by the team that scores first. In addition to being 17-3-4 when scoring the first goal, the Ducks are a league-best 11-4-1 when their opponent scores first. San Jose is 15-2-5 when scoring first, and is the only other NHL team over .500 when allowing the first goal (9-6-1).
Anaheim and San Jose play the second of a five-game season set tonight. The Ducks dropped a 4-3 shootout decision in the series opener on Nov. 30 at the SAP Center. Anaheim has gone 52-52-10 all-time against San Jose, including a 27-25-5 mark in the Bay Area. The season series continues with a New Year’s Eve contest this Tuesday at Honda Center, while the final two games will be played on Mar. 20 in San Jose and Apr. 9 in Anaheim.