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Road-warrior Sharks thriving but perplexed about losing so much at home

NHL.com @NHL

TORONTO - There's no place like the road for the San Jose Sharks.

They've beaten the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs to open a five-game trip and lead the NHL with 12 road wins and 25 points away from San Jose.

That success is the point of some pride, but also plenty of frustration about why it's not the same at home, where the Sharks are 4-9-0.

"We have no idea, or else we would fix it at home," defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. "Maybe we get to sleep longer, maybe practices are shorter, I don't know what it is."

Captain Joe Pavelski, who leads the team with 15 goals and 31 points, said the Sharks don't beat themselves on the road, where they're 12-5-1. They swept a six-game swing in November and appear to play a more simple game.

Defenceman Brent Burns, who scored the overtime winner against the Leafs, joked that "maybe the wives talk too much to us." He quickly apologized for the humour that might get him in trouble at home.

"I don't know, we're trying some things to change it up," Burns said. "Maybe our routines are different. Definitely more sleep (on the road) for the guys who have kids."

Long road trips are normal for Western Conference teams, especially those on the West Coast. But it's an adjustment for coach Peter DeBoer, whose first two NHL stops were with Florida and New Jersey.

He's not worried about his players.

"It's old hat for them," DeBoer said. "They're comfortable doing it. The time changes, those type of things, it must be something you get used to and they handle it really well."

And then there are games at SAP Center, known as the "Shark Tank." The Sharks have lost three in a row there.

"It doesn't make sense," DeBoer said. "We should be more comfortable at home. Historically it's always been a tough building to play in. You're getting teams out in Northern California that have been travelling. There's no logical reason we shouldn't be better at home. We're trying to figure out why we're not."

The good news for the Sharks is also the bad news for the Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings, as San Jose has three more stops on this road trip before returning for a five-game homestand.

While players remain perplexed about the home woes, they take comfort in the hotel beds and road rinks that have made for friendly confines so far this season.

"We've had a really good group in here, competitive group: Guys have shown up, we haven't packed any games in and we've had fun on the road," Pavelski said. "We've established that I think. We know what to expect, we know what a good game feels like. It's about doing a little bit more."

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