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Hurricanes' long trek continues against Sharks

by Brian Hunter
HURRICANES (2-2-0) at SHARKS (1-1-1)


Season Series:
This is the only meeting of the 2010-11 season between these teams. San Jose won the most recent matchup, 5-1 in Carolina on Nov. 1, 2009. Brandon Sutter opened the scoring for the Hurricanes but it was all Sharks after that, with Patrick Marleau registering a goal and an assist.

Big Story: Two teams that opened the season playing overseas are still feeling their way through the early portion of the schedule. San Jose has played only three games, tied with Boston for the fewest in the NHL entering Tuesday, and Carolina four. In fact, each team will be looking for its first win since returning to North America -- the Sharks lost their home opener to the Thrashers on Saturday while the Hurricanes have dropped road games to the Senators and Canucks.

Team Scope:

Hurricanes: Perhaps starting out in Helsinki was the easy part of Carolina's early-season journey. The Hurricanes built themselves some positive momentum by sweeping a pair of games from the Wild in Finland, but they've found life to be a bit tougher since getting back to the U.S. and embarking on a five-game road trip that currently has them out in California. Even with Roberto Luongo getting the night off in favor of Cory Schneider, goals were tough to come by Sunday night in a 5-1 loss to the Canucks.

"I feel sluggish and we just don't have that jump right now," defenseman Joe Corvo said. "A lot of guys might say they feel all right, but to be honest with you, we've traveled so many miles and lost so much sleep, it's something you don't even know is going on in your body."
Sharks: In uncharacteristic fashion, San Jose not only lost on home ice but blew a two-goal lead against Atlanta. Dany Heatley and Ryane Clowe scored goals 21 seconds apart in the first period to give the Sharks the fast start they were looking for against the Thrashers, but they didn't manage anything else in a 4-2 defeat. New goalie Antti Niemi was beaten by former Blackhawks teammate Dustin Byfuglien for the go-ahead power-play goal with 6:20 remaining.

"He has a great shot," Niemi said. "When he gets the puck he knows how to score. You just have to be ready to make those big saves."

Who's Hot: Patrick O'Sullivan had the Hurricanes' only goal and three shots in nearly 14 minutes of ice time against the Canucks. … Clowe (1-3-4) and Joe Thornton (2-1-3) have points in all three games the Sharks have played.

Injury Report: San Jose forward Jamal Mayers is day-to-day with an arm injury while defenseman Derek Joslin (upper body) is on injured reserve.

Stat Pack: Hurricanes captain Eric Staal leads the team with 17 shots, while Marleau and Joe Pavelski have 12 apiece to pace the Sharks. Putting all that rubber on net hasn't led to goals yet, however: Staal has scored just once, and Marleau and Pavelski are still looking for their first of the season.

Puck Drop:
Carolina will have traveled more than 15,000 miles and through 11 time zones before playing its first home game on Oct. 27 against the reigning Presidents' Trophy winner and Southeast Division champion, Washington. It's a grind the players are not necessarily fond of, but they're soldiering on.

"It's pretty ridiculous," Corvo said. "But whatever you got to do to make money."

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