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Sharks attempt to deny Devils sweep of California trip

by Mike G. Morreale

DEVILS (9-8-5) at SHARKS (14-3-5)


Last 10: New Jersey 6-3-1; San Jose 4-2-4

Season series: This is the first of two meetings. The San Jose Sharks scored a 4-3 shootout win in the most recent matchup on Oct. 21, 2011 at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Big story: The Sharks enter the game having won four of their past five and the New Jersey Devils have won three straight. Devils right wing Jaromir Jagr scored the overtime goal in a 2-1 victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. It was his 121st career game-winning goal, tying him with Gordie Howe for the most in NHL history. It was also the 690th goal of his career, tying him with former Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Mario Lemieux for ninth on the all-time list.

"I learned so many things from [Lemieux]," Jagr said. "There aren't many people lucky to play with the best player in the world. I tell all the young kids, 'When you have a chance when you come into the League and you play with the best player in the world, watch him because you can learn a lot.' I was pretty lucky to see him at his best."

Team Scope:

Devils: New Jersey has won the first two games during its three-game California swing. After scoring a second straight overtime win in Los Angeles, the Devils have points in seven of their past eight games (6-1-1). After beginning the season winless in seven games (0-4-3), the Devils are 9-4-2 (20 points) in the past 15. L.A. outshot the Devils 35-15, but Cory Schneider made 34 saves for his first victory in six starts (1-3-2).

"We were outplayed and outshot. We shouldn't have been in the game," Jagr said. "But Cory was excellent and he kept us in the game, especially in the first period. We should probably have lost 5-0."

Coach Peter DeBoer made right wing Damien Brunner a healthy scratch against the Kings. Brunner has no points in the past 10 games after producing four goals and three assists over his first 10 games.

Sharks: Linemates Tommy Wingels (two goals), Logan Couture (three assists) and Patrick Marleau (one goal, two assists) combined for eight points in a 5-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning at SAP Center on Thursday. Brent Burns, who had not played since Oct. 19 because of facial injuries, returned to the lineup and scored a goal while being reunited with linemates Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl. Antti Niemi had 36 saves, his second-highest total this season. The Sharks will be playing the second game of a five-game homestand after going 3-1-1 on a five-game road trip.

"We always like playing in front of our home crowd, and we feel like we have a huge advantage playing here at home," Thornton said. "[The Lightning] is a very good team. They're one of the best teams in the East. To beat them like that is huge. We just have to get confidence off that and keep going."

Who's hot: Schneider has allowed just one goal in each of his past three starts (1-1-1) and is fifth in the NHL with a 1.87 goals-against average. … Couture has one goal, seven points and a plus-3 rating over the past six games.

Injury report: New Jersey is without defensemen Bryce Salvador (fractured foot), Anton Volchenkov (lower body) and Jon Merrill (facial lacerations) as well as forward Ryane Clowe (concussion). … There are no injuries to report for the Sharks.

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