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Canucks-Sharks Preview

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It's probably seemed a little like Christmas morning for San Jose fans each time the Sharks have taken the ice at home this season.

Looking to remain undefeated at HP Pavilion in regulation through the first 20 games this season, the league-leading Sharks (26-4-3) meet the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night in the NHL's final game before the holiday break.

San Jose improved to 17-0-2 at the Shark Tank with a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday. Evgeni Nabokov, who made 17 of his 32 saves in a frantic third period, told the Sharks' official Web site that they welcomed getting back into the win column after two straight road losses, including a 6-0 rout by defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit on Thursday.

"It was really important for our team," he said. "We didn't give our best in Detroit for whatever reason."

Nabokov, a 46-game winner and Vezina Trophy finalist last season, improved to 18-3-2 with a 2.58 goals-against average in 2008-09. He's 14-0-1 with a 2.05 GAA at home this season.

This will be San Jose's first matchup with Vancouver this season. In 2007-08, the Sharks outscored the Canucks 15-6 while sweeping the four-game season series for only the second time in franchise history. Nabokov posted a 1.51 GAA while winning all four contests.

Against the Atlantic Division-leading Rangers, Dan Boyle and Ryane Clowe scored on the power play 25 seconds apart early, and Patrick Marleau added his team-high 17th goal early in the second period.

Clowe has 14 goals in 33 games this season and is tied for second in the league with nine power-play tallies.

San Jose has taken advantage of playing with the extra man at home all season. The Sharks have recorded at least one power-play goal in nine of their last 10 at home, and are 21-for-97 on the power play there.

Joe Thornton had two assists versus New York, increasing his team-leading total to 29. Thornton, who's tied with Marleau for the team scoring lead with 37 points, led San Jose with six assists and nine points versus the Canucks last season.

Now, the Sharks will face another division leader, and must find a way to stop Daniel Sedin. He continued his red-hot play with two goals on Monday as Vancouver held off Anaheim 4-3 to cap a 3-1-0 homestand.

Sedin has five goals during a three-game streak, and the Canucks' leading scorer has tallied 11 of his 17 since Nov. 19. Last season, he managed one assist in four games against San Jose.

Mason Raymond and Ryan Kesler scored power-play goals against the Ducks as Vancouver (19-12-3) leapfrogged Calgary for the Northwest lead.

"It was definitely a playoff-style atmosphere," said Kesler, who recorded his 100th NHL point.

With Roberto Luongo still sidelined by a groin injury, the Canucks' Curtis Sanford will likely start in goal again. Sanford finished with 24 saves against Anaheim, but had one apparent goal in the third waved off before giving up markers to Scott Niedermayer and Samuel Pahlsson less than 90 seconds apart midway through the period.

Sanford is 6-5-0 with a 2.73 GAA in 13 games with 11 starts this season. In two appearances - one start - in his career against San Jose, Sanford is 0-2-0 with a 6.25 GAA.

The NHL will resume play on Friday with nine games on the schedule.

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