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Pregame: Tough Back-to-Back Begins in Hostile Waters

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara /

The road warriors are back at it tonight, as the Ducks travel up the coast to take on the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center. This marks the sixth of seven games the Ducks have played away from the friendly confines of Honda Center, which for all intents and purposes, served as a layover last Sunday after a season-opening five-game road trip.

The homecoming was a successful one, however, as the Ducks skated to a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in a game they thoroughly dominated. Anaheim has won two consecutive games (2-0-0) and earned standings points in three of the last four (2-1-1, 5 pts.), both season highs.

It was an optional skate this morning at the arena, so line rushes and tonight's starting goaltender remain to be seen. For what it's worth, John Gibson was the lone goaltender on the ice, but with this being the first game of a back-to-back, Randy Carlyle might roll with Jonathan Bernier in net tonight. Bernier went 2-0 against the Sharks in the preseason and combined to stop 52-of-54 shots, including a 22-save shutout at SAP Center. Will that factor into Carlyle's decision? We'll see.

Tonight, they'll face a Sharks team that is surely looking to take out some frustration after going 2-3-0 on their recent five-game trip that included losses in three of the final four. Over those four games, the Sharks were outscored 15-9.

"We know going into this building, there's going to be a rush," said Carlyle. "They're not feeling great about themselves after losing three of four on the road, and losing their last two. I'm sure they're looking to take some revenge out on somebody, and we happen to be the next opponent."

The Ducks have had success against their finned rivals as of late. Anaheim has won each of the last three meetings between the teams, including consecutive 1-0 victories on Nov. 7 and Dec. 4, 2015.

"It's a team we have a little bit of history with, and a team we'll be battling with and seeing in the playoffs if we accomplish our goal," said defenseman Kevin Bieksa. "We want to get off to a good start in our division. It's a team that's really good on home ice. We'll have to be disciplined, much like our last game. We finally took a step and we're a lot more disciplined with our sticks. We're going to need that again."

San Jose's roster remains relatively unchanged from the squad that reached the Stanley Cup Final last year. Pacing the Sharks in scoring is their exuberant defenseman Brent Burns, who co-leads the NHL with nine points (3g/6a) through six games. Burns had a five-game point streak to begin the season before San Jose's 3-0 setback against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. Burns, who can pass for a character on Game of Thrones, has 25 points (8g/17a) in 44 career games against the Ducks.








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