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San Jose Sharks vs. Anaheim Ducks @NHLdotcom
Sharks-Mighty Ducks Preview

GAME: San Jose Sharks (36-19-12-6) at Anaheim Mighty Ducks (26-30-10-8).

TIME: Friday, 10:30 p.m. EST.

As good as Jonathan Cheechoo has been of late, Evgeni Nabokov has been equally bad.

Both players will try to get on the same page when the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks travel to Anaheim to meet the Mighty Ducks.

Cheechoo has six goals in his last four games, including two on the power play during Thursday's 5-3 win in Los Angeles.

"This is probably the best streak I've been on ever since I've turned pro," said Cheechoo, who had nine goals in 66 games as a rookie last season. "Everything just seems to be going in."

The 23-year-old right wing scored twice in the final 1:37 of Tuesday's 3-3 tie in Dallas. In just his second season in the NHL, Cheechoo has set career highs with 25 goals and 41 points.

"We saw what we had in him last year, but we just had to make some room so he'd have a chance to grow - and he has," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said.

"We expected him, with increased ice time, to score and maybe produce 15 or 20 goals. But I don't think anybody projected 25 or 30 goals from him. He's obviously hot, and that's what happens to some players - especially goal-scorers. So you have to keep riding them."

The Sharks are unbeaten in four (3-0-1) following a three-game losing streak and remain three points ahead of Dallas in the Pacific Division with nine games remaining.

However, if the Sharks do have one area of concern it's with the recent play of Nabokov. The 29-year-old Russian goaltender has a 3.60 goals-against average over his last eight appearances. He is 3-3-1 in that span with a woeful .883 save-percentage (182-for-206).

The Mighty Ducks are coming in off Wednesday's 1-1 tie with St. Louis.

Martin Skoula scored with 4{ minutes left in the third period and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made five of his 30 saves in overtime for Anaheim.

"It was pretty awesome to score my first goal for this organization," said Skoula, playing his 13th game for Anaheim since coming over in a trade from Colorado on Feb. 21. "I'm happy that I'm getting more responsibility and more ice time."

Anaheim has a win and a tie following a four-game losing streak. The Ducks are 10 points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with eight games remaining.

STANDINGS: Sharks - 90 points, 1st place, Pacific Division. Mighty Ducks - 70 points, 4th place, 20 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Sharks - Patrick Marleau, 27 goals and 51 points; Brad Stuart, 27 assists; Scott Parker, 96 PIM. Mighty Ducks - Sergei Fedorov, 26 goals, 32 assists and 58 points; Garrett Burnett, 148 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 17): Sharks - Power play: 16.1 percent (48 for 299), 18th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.4 percent (245 for 287), 5th. Mighty Ducks - Power play: 16.5 percent (47 for 284), 13th (tied). Penalty killing: 84.5 percent (268 for 317), 10th.

GOALTENDERS: Sharks - Evgeni Nabokov (25-18-8, 8 SO, 2.21 GAA); Vesa Toskala (11-7-4, 0, 2.11). Mighty Ducks - Giguere (15-28-6, 3, 2.59); Martin Gerber (10-10-4, 2, 2.27).


LAST MEETING: Dec. 21; Sharks, 2-1. At Anaheim, Niko Dimitrakos set up goals by Marleau and Damphousse, and Nabokov made 24 saves for the Sharks. Petr Sykora scored for the Ducks.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sharks - 16-13-5-4 on the road; Mighty Ducks - 17-9-7-4 at home.

Associated Press
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