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Sharks-Canucks Preview

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Sharks-Canucks Preview

GAME: San Jose Sharks (8-9-4) at Vancouver Canucks (14-6-2).

TIME: Thursday, 10 p.m. EST.

The Vancouver Canucks hope to improve on one of the best home records in the NHL when they host the San Jose Sharks.

Vancouver is 9-1-0 at home this season, tied with Nashville for the best mark in the league. The Canucks have outscored their opponents 40-23 at General Motors Place over 10 games.

Right wing Todd Bertuzzi has six goals over the last six games for Vancouver. Bertuzzi had an assist in the Canucks' 3-1 victory over Chicago on Tuesday.

Ryan Kesler ended a 10-game scoreless streak by netting the game-winner five minutes into the second period. Kesler had been stopped twice on breakaways in the first period.

"I've been struggling, so it was just good to get one in the second after missing a couple of breakaways," Kesler said.

Vancouver only had to kill off one power play Tuesday after being forced to defend 25 over its three previous games. The Canucks had allowed five goals with the man advantage in that span.

"Only getting one penalty was huge," Canucks goaltender Alex Auld said. "We've said discipline is important and it was tonight."

The lack of penalties also helped to give Vancouver's third line of Kesler, Richard Park and Jarkko Ruutu extended ice time that led to Kesler breaking his drought. The trio has combined for 17 points this season, including four since Nov. 2.

San Jose dropped its seventh straight, 3-2 at Calgary on Wednesday. Patrick Marleau assisted on both goals for the Sharks, who have not won since a 1-0 victory at Anaheim on Nov. 4.

Three of San Jose's losses have come in shootouts. The Sharks have not scored more than three goals in their last 10 games since a 5-4 win at Los Angeles on Oct. 28.

Grant Stevenson scored in his NHL debut Wednesday, becoming the ninth player in team history to accomplish the feat. Stevenson was recalled before the game from Cleveland, where he led the team in points with 16 in 17 games.

Rookie goaltender Nolan Schaefer may get the start with starter Evgeni Nabokov winless in five outings since returning from a shoulder injury. Schaefer won his first five decisions before losing to Minnesota on Nov. 5.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 23): Sharks - 20 points, 4th place (tied), 11 PB, Pacific Division. Canucks - 30 points, 1st place, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Sharks - Marleau, 9 goals, 12 assists and 21 points; Mark Smith, 34 PIM. Canucks - Markus Naslund, 13 goals and 27 points; Naslund and Brendan Morrison, 14 assists; Wade Brookbank, 56 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 23): Sharks - Power play: 13.6 percent (19 for 139), 25th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.3 percent (83 for 102), 19th (tied). Canucks - Power play: 17.5 percent (27 for 154), 19th. Penalty killing: 81 percent (107 for 132), 22nd.

GOALTENDERS: Sharks - Nabokov (3-4-4, 0 SO, 3.01 GAA); Schaefer (5-1-0, 1, 1.94). Canucks - Auld (6-3-1, 0, 2.35); Dan Cloutier (8-3-1, 0, 3.17).

SEASON SERIES: Canucks, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 16; Canucks, 3-1. At San Jose, Calif., Ed Jovanovski and Anson Carter each had power-play goals and Park added the Canucks' first short-handed tally of the season as Vancouver snapped a four-game road losing streak.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sharks - 4-7-2 on the road; Canucks - 9-1-0 at home.


Associated Press

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