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Canucks-Sharks Preview

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Canucks-Sharks Preview

GAME: Vancouver Canucks (11-5-2) at San Jose Sharks (8-7-2).

TIME: Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. EST.

The Vancouver Canucks may be tied for the top spot in the Northwest Division, but goaltender Dan Cloutier and his teammates haven't played like a first-place team on the road this season.

The Canucks look to end a four-game road losing streak when they visit the San Jose Sharks.

Vancouver has won eight of nine games at GM Place, but only three of nine away from home. Much like his teammates, Cloutier has fared much better at home than on the road.

Cloutier is 5-0 with a 2.21 goals-against average and .926 save percentage at home. On the road, though, he's 1-2-1 with a 4.66 GAA and .828 save percentage.

The Vancouver goalie made an impressive return Sunday after missing two weeks following a concussion, stopping 34 of 35 shots as the Canucks ended a three-game skid with a 4-1 home win over the Detroit Red Wings.

"I felt good throughout the game, no side effects," said Cloutier, who didn't look rusty following a five-game layoff.

Cloutier was aided by three goals from Todd Bertuzzi, who has five goals in his last three games.

San Jose has lost three straight following a five-game win streak, including a 3-2 shootout defeat to Dallas on Saturday.

Putting the puck in the net has been difficult for the Sharks during the slide. They've scored only six goals in their last four games, with rookie center Marcel Goc accounting for two of the scores.

San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov returned against the Stars after missing eight games with an upper body injury, and allowed two first-period goals on 10 shots before shutting down Dallas the rest of the way.

"I think he might admit he should have gotten those first two goals," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "He played much better in the second half and we played well in front of him. We got a point but we should have won that game."

The Sharks have lost two straight at home after winning their first four contests there.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 15): Canucks - 24 points, 1st place (tied), Northwest Division. Sharks - 18 points, 4th place (tied), 7 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canucks - Markus Naslund, 10 goals and 21 points; Naslund and Ed Jovanovski, 11 assists; Wade Brookbank, 34 PIM. Sharks - Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo, 7 goals; Marleau, 10 assists and 17 points; Mark Smith, 32 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 15): Canucks - Power play: 16.7 percent (22 for 131), 19th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.3 percent (87 for 107), tied for 19th. Sharks - Power play: 13.2 percent (15 for 113), tied for 26th. Penalty killing: 81.8 percent (72 for 88), 18th.

GOALTENDERS: Canucks - Cloutier (6-2-1, 3.24 GAA); Alex Auld (5-3-1, 2.56). Sharks - Nabokov (3-2-2, 3.30); Nolan Schaefer (5-1-0, 1 SO, 1.94).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: 2-2.

LAST MEETING: April 2, 2004; Canucks, 4-1. At San Jose, Calif., Cloutier stopped 33 of 34 shots and four different Canucks scored in the victory.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canucks - 3-4-2 on the road; Sharks - 4-1-1 at home.


Associated Press
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