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Pacific Division battle pits Sharks against Ducks

by Brian Hunter
DUCKS (4-6-1) at SHARKS (4-3-1)


Last 10:
Anaheim 4-5-1

Season Series: First of six meetings this season between these Pacific Division rivals. Perhaps still bitter about getting upset by Anaheim in the first round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, San Jose won the first five matchups on last season's schedule. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau led the offensive onslaught for the Sharks with 5 goals apiece.

Big Story: Each team is coming off a home game against New Jersey with vastly different results. San Jose got its top line untracked in a 5-2 win on Wednesday, as Thornton recorded the hat trick and finished with 5 points. Marleau and Dany Heatley each registered a goal and 3 assists, giving the line 13 points on the night. Anaheim wasn't as fortunate on Friday, managing just a Jason Blake goal in a 2-1 defeat.

Team Scope:

Ducks: This will be the second game in 24 hours for Anaheim, which at least didn't have to travel far after its setback to New Jersey. The Ducks, who give up the most shots per game in the NHL, an average of 38.5, held the Devils to only 27 and got a solid effort in net from Jonas Hiller. But in this case it was the offense that couldn't build off the one-goal lead Blake provided with a second-period goal.

"Every time you think we're going to get it going, we play a game like tonight and lose again," Hiller said. "It starts all over again. We have to find a way to win (Saturday)."

Todd McLellan knows how to make a point, and the San Jose coach did just that when he elected to start the line of Joe Pavelski centering Devin Setoguchi and Ryane Clowe to start Wednesday's game instead of his top unit of Thornton, Marleau and Heatley. Once that trio did hit the ice, it was unstoppable for virtually the entire game and led the Sharks to their first win in three tries this season at HP Pavilion.

"I think they read the writing between the lines and responded," McLellan said. "They're a team of game-breakers who play desperate. That was something we were waiting for from that line. It was a really good display of leadership."

Who's Hot: Blake has 2 goals and an assist in his last four games while Hiller has stopped 115 of 123 shots over his last four starts for a .935 save percentage. … Thornton now has 3 goals and 5 assists in the last three games while Heatley has 2 goals and 6 assists in the last four games.

Injury Report: Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler is sidelined with a broken nose. Forward Matt Beleskey has a concussion and was placed on injured reserve, where he joins defenseman Andy Sutton (hand) and forwards Dan Sexton (nasal surgery), Jason Jaffray (knee) and Joffrey Lupul (back). … San Jose defenseman Derek Joslin (upper body) is on injured reserve.

Stat Pack: Corey Perry, who led the Ducks in scoring last season with 76 points, is currently first on the team in a different category: penalty minutes. He has 29 and is one of five Anaheim players with at least 20 PIMs. The Ducks lead the League with 216 penalty minutes. … Logan Couture leads the Sharks with 2 game-winning goals.

Puck Drop: At least one team will hit double digits in points by the end of Saturday night. San Jose has played three fewer games than Anaheim, due in large part to starting the season over in Stockholm, Sweden, but the Sharks would still like to cut into the five-point lead the Kings hold over them in the current Pacific standings.

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