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Sharks finish brief Canadian trip by visiting Canucks

by Brian Hunter /
SHARKS (17-6-4) at CANUCKS (14-11-0)

Last 10 -- San Jose 6-2-2; Vancouver 6-4-0

Season series --
First of four meetings this season – the teams don't meet again until mid-March, when they play three times in the final 24 days of the regular season. San Jose won three of four last season, though Vancouver prevailed 3-1 in the most recent meeting, March 7 at G.M. Place.

Big story --
Much of the attention surrounding the Sharks this season has centered on the terrific play of newcomer Dany Heatley, but one of the hottest players in the NHL is center Patrick Marleau. He may no longer be the captain, but Marleau has led by example with his on-ice play. His hat trick Saturday, including a game-tying shorthanded goal with 1:26 remaining in the third period, helped San Jose edge Edmonton 5-4 in a shootout. Marleau’s 17 goals are third in the League.
Team Scope:

Sharks -- Fresh off a 7-2 thumping by Chicago two nights earlier, San Jose was staring at a second straight regulation defeat for the first time this season before Marleau's third of the night forced overtime and Joe Pavelski eventually netted the decisive goal in a shootout.

"We didn't play too well until we were down by two goals and then we found some urgency to our game," center Joe Thornton said. "It was important to bounce back after that last game. We still feel we need to play better."

Canucks -- Five first-period goals helped Vancouver make short work of visiting Edmonton on Saturday night, a night after the Oilers' emotional loss to the Sharks.

Christian Ehrhoff, Mason Raymond, Alexander Edler and Mikael Samuelsson all scored power-play goals as the Canucks went 4-for-5 with the man advantage in a 7-3 victory. Roberto Luongo actually had to work hard in the third period to ensure the final score wasn't closer, stopping 17 shots over the final 20 minutes.

"It's going to be a good test for us," Daniel Sedin said of facing the Sharks. "We're almost healthy now so we can't really have any excuses, just go out and play our game."

Who's hot -- Marleau finished with a four-point night against the Oilers, while Thornton contributed three assists and has three goals and 11 assists during a seven-game points streak for the Sharks. Ryane Clowe has three goals and three assists during a five-game points streak. Heatley has four goals and three assists during a four-game points streak.

Henrik Sedin has a goal and three assists in the Canucks' last two games and five goals in as many games. Daniel Sedin, back from a broken foot, has a goal and two assists in his last two games. Tanner Glass has scored goals in consecutive games. Luongo has won four of his last five starts.

Injury report --
San Jose activated forward Torrey Mitchell from injured reserve on Saturday. Forward Devin Setoguchi (leg) and defenseman Rob Blake (left arm) remain on I.R. and forward Brad Staubitz (broken right cheek bone) is out indefinitely. Forward Jody Shelley (body soreness) is questionable for Sunday.

Vancouver forward Rick Rypien has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury. Forwards Pavol Demitra (shoulder), Alexandre Bolduc (shoulder) and Michael Grabner (ankle) are all on injured reserve.

Stat pack -- The Canucks' power play is currently operating at 25.2 percent efficiency after Saturday's prolific output, second in the League only to the Chicago Blackhawks at 26.0 percent.

Puck drop --
Before heading back to California to begin a five-game homestand, the Sharks have to contend with the second half of their Canadian road trip. They survived a close call Friday and the Canucks will try to accomplish what the Oilers could not and secure two points.

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