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Canucks aim to rebound against Sharks

by David Kalan

CANUCKS (19-10-6) at SHARKS (17-11-6)


Last 10: Vancouver 7-3-0; San Jose 6-4-0.

Season series: The San Jose Sharks have won both of their games with the Canucks this season. In their last meeting, San Jose topped Vancouver in a shootout, 3-2, on March 5 at Rogers Arena.

Big story: As the regular season hits the home stretch, both Vancouver and San Jose sit in the Western Conference's top eight, but given how tightly-packed the race is, both are far from clinching a playoff spot. The Canucks and Sharks can pick up a valuable two points when they meet in San Jose on Monday.

Team scope:

Canucks: Vancouver lost its last game by a lopsided 4-0 margin in Edmonton on Saturday, but while the loss was a particularly brutal one -- the Oilers scored three goals in the first three minutes -- the Canucks might have just been due. Prior to the loss, Vancouver had won six games in a row, a stretch that has pulled the Canucks into an extremely tight race with the Minnesota Wild for first place in the Northwest Division. Both teams have 44 points as of Monday morning and while the Wild have a game in hand, there is plenty of time for Vancouver to overtake its division rival and get the first-round home ice advantage that comes wih a division title.

Doing so might require a bit more production, however. Before he was yanked after giving up two quick goals Saturday, goalie Cory Schneider had been tremendous in net for the Canucks, providing a rock at the back throughout their winning streak even as the offense struggled. The Canucks have averaged just over 1.86 goals per game over their last seven outings.

Sharks: San Jose has struggled to gain any consistency for most of the season, and its trade last week of Douglas Murray to the Pittsburgh Penguins would seem at first glance to be general manager Doug Wilson waving the white flag ahead of this week's trade deadline. But since the trade, the Sharks have won four games in a row -- including a home-and-home sweep of the Pacific-leading Anaheim Ducks, lifting San Jose up the standings and, for the moment, comfortably into the West's top eight.

Those last three wins have all come at HP Pavilion, where the Sharks boast one of the best home-ice records in the League at 11-1-4. San Jose still gets four more games at home before it heads on the road again later this month, which, if the trend holds, means the Sharks could very well rise even higher in the West.

Who's hot: Schneider has lost just two games in regulation for the Canucks since the start of March. In his past seven games, he's 6-1-0 with a 1.31 goals-against average. ... San Jose's Joe Pavelski has scored in four straight games, including two game-winners, while adding two assists over that stretch.

Injury report: Jason Demers, who did not play Saturday due to an undisclosed injury, is questionable for San Jose. … Keith Ballard has skated with the Canucks in practice, but is doubtful with a small fracture in his foot. Dale Weise (shoulder) and Zack Kassian (back) are both on injured reserve.

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