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Ducks, Sharks battle for top spot in Pacific Division

by Davis Harper

DUCKS (45-17-7) at SHARKS (45-18-7)


Last 10: Anaheim 5-3-2; San Jose 7-2-1

Season series: This is the fourth of five games between the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks. The home team has won each of the first three, and the Sharks have won four straight against the Ducks at SAP Center.

Big story: When the NHL season reconvened after the Sochi Olympics, it looked as though Anaheim would skate comfortably to the Pacific Division title - and maybe the Western Conference crown and the Presidents' Trophy as well. But three weeks later, the Ducks have lost five of seven and allowed San Jose to pull even in the standings with 97 points, though Anaheim has played one fewer game.

Each team comes into this game after being beaten 3-2 in its own building Tuesday. The Sharks had a six-game winning streak snapped with a rare home loss, to the Florida Panthers, while the Washington Capitals edged the Ducks at Honda Center.

Team Scope:

Ducks: Though Anaheim has scored two power-play goals in its past 15 games and surrendered two in the 3-2 loss to the Capitals, the focus of practice on Wednesday was getting back to basics rather than special teams.

"We didn't talk about it. We took a day off today," captain Ryan Getzlaf said after practice before the team left for San Jose. "You can beat that thing to death and look at video all you want, but the fact is last night we did a lot of good things on the power play. We took a lot of shots and that's what we were looking to do last night."

With first place on the line, the Ducks are expecting a physical battle that should be a good warm-up for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"This is playoff hockey for sure," Getzlaf said. "We're going into a hostile building fighting for first place. We just have to make sure we go in with controlled emotion going into the first period, and then we'll go from there."

Sharks: The Ducks aren't the only team that's having trouble scoring on the power play. San Jose has converted a League-worst 6.2 percent of its power-play chances (4 for 65) in its past 20 games.

''It's not good enough, simple as that,'' forward Logan Couture said. ''It's on us, the players who go out there and play the big power-play minutes, myself included. It needs to be better. It needs to help win us games.''

San Jose was 1-for-6 with the extra man against Florida and had 16 power-play shots. But the Sharks lost 3-2 despite outshooting the Panthers 54-24 and having 99 shot attempts to 40 for the visitors.

Those numbers did nothing to mollify coach Todd McLellan's unhappiness afterward.

''We've talked about this lesson a lot of times this year already with teams that are maybe not in the playoffs and we keep shooting ourselves in the foot,'' McLellan said. ''Until we fix that, we'll probably end up with the same results.''

Who's hot: Ducks rookie defenseman Hampus Lindholm has four assists in his past three games. … Sharks goalie Antti Niemi had won five straight - including two shutouts - with a 1.60 goals-against average before taking the loss Tuesday.

Injury report: Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler (sprained left MCL) will miss three to five weeks with an injury sustained against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. Forward Nick Bonino (lower body) is day-to-day after blocking a shot with his foot late in the game Tuesday. … Sharks forward Raffi Torres (knee) and defenseman Brad Stuart (upper body) are day-to-day.

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