SAN JOSE, Calif. - The San Jose Sharks will put their perfect record on the line Sunday night at HP Pavilion against the Vancouver Canucks, a team that has had their number lately.
The Canucks have won four straight regular-season games at HP, which has typically been tough on visiting teams. Vancouver went 3-0-1 in their series against the Sharks last season and 24-12-5 overall on the road, the best road record in the Western Conference. The Canucks have 71 road wins dating to the start of the 2008-09 season, the most in the NHL.
"They're a good road team," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Sunday morning after a brief team meeting. "They're a veteran group. They're well prepared every night. Their special teams are excellent. I think as we've seen so far this year in most games, specialty teams have won or lost it for a lot of teams. ... Special teams play a big role, and they've always been very, very good in that area."
Despite the Canucks four-game streak at HP, Vancouver center Maxim Lapierre said they're expecting a tough test tonight.
"It's a different year. They're playing really good," Lapierre said of the Sharks. "I think we're ready to go when we play these guys. We know how good they are, and we can't make too many mistakes out there. So I think guys are really focused."
Lapierre said there's no secret formula for the Canucks' success on the road.
"I think we just go out there and try to play the right way," he said. "We don't want to go and put on a show. We just play in the system and play physical. This is how we win some games on the road."
Lapierre, who missed practice Saturday to rest his sore groin, was one of just a handful of Canucks who were on the ice for an optional skate. He said he's good to go for tonight's game even though he's not pain-free.
"I tried to rest it," Lapierre said. "As we know, the schedule is pretty tight. I'll battle through in the games, but it's pretty painful. I'll be ready for tonight."
Sharks center Scott Gomez, who signed with the team on Thursday, will be in the lineup for the second straight game, centering the fourth line.
Gomez said his body felt "good" and he was ready to get back on the ice tonight.
"We all know what the schedule's going to be like," Gomez said. "Talking to guys from the past, it actually sometimes even works to your advantage. You feel good on the ice and you just want to get back out there again. My answer might be different after tonight. We've had a long rest. It's definitely a sprint this year. We just want to keep going this year."
McLellan said playing back-to-back games for the first time this season will be "a test" for Gomez and the entire team.
"The other night when we played Phoenix, they played back-to-back. I thought you could see the team peter out a little bit at the end," McLellan said. "All teams are going to go through that, so this is our first test with that.
"Scotty had a good game. I think 15 minutes of ice time, so that was a good start for him. He accepted his role. We'll just continue to grow our team, and he has to be a part of it and be responsible for what he's given."
Defenseman Brad Stuart, in his second stint with the Sharks, played a huge role in a 4-0 win Saturday over Colorado. His big first-period hit on Gabriel Landeskog jump-started the Sharks, who grabbed a 2-0 lead on a pair of Patrick Marleau power play goals.
According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, Stuart will not face supplementary discipline from the league for his hit.
"I haven't heard anything from anybody," Stuart said. "I'm assuming that's the way it will remain. At the time I thought it was a good hit. I saw it a couple times last night and still thought that."
Here's how the lineups could look Sunday when the San Jose Sharks play the Vancouver Canucks at HP Pavilion:
Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Martin Havlat - Logan Couture - Ryane Clowe
Tommy Wingels - Michal Handzus - TJ Galiardi
Andrew Desjardins - Scott Gomez - Adam Burish
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brad Stuart
Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle
Douglas Murray - Justin Braun
Injured: Brent Burns, Jason Demers
Scratched: James Sheppard, Nick Petrecki, Frazer McLaren
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Zack Kassian
Chris Higgins - Alexandre Burrows - Jannik Hansen
Mason Raymond - Jordan Schroeder - Dale Weise
Andrew Ebbett - Maxim Lapierre - Aaron Volpatti
Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Jason Garrison - Alexander Edler
Keith Ballard - Christopher Tanev
Injured: Ryan Kesler, David Booth
Scratched: Andrew Alberts, Manny Malhotra, Cam Barker