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Sharks host Ducks to start home-and-home series

by Sean McCullen

DUCKS (28-7-5) at SHARKS (24-8-6)


Last 10: Anaheim 10-0-0; San Jose 5-4-1

Season series: This is the second of five games between the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks. The Sharks won 4-3 in a shootout when the teams played in San Jose on Nov.30. The teams will conclude a home-and-home set on New Year's Eve in Anaheim.

Big story: The Sharks have their work cut out for them against the Ducks, who come into this game riding an NHL-best 10-game winning streak and own the top spot in the overall NHL standings -- they are tied with the Chicago Blackhawks with 61 points but have a game in hand. San Jose has won five of seven games after a four-game losing streak (0-3-1) in early December and is 13-1-3 at SAP Center.

Team Scope:

Ducks: Anaheim beat the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 in overtime Saturday night after blowing a 2-0 lead with less than five minutes left in the third period.

Saku Koivu scored the game-winner, his second goal of the game, 51 seconds into overtime to give the Ducks their franchise-best 10th straight win, the longest such streak in the League since the Pittsburgh Penguins won 15 in a row in March.

"I think it's neat," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Anytime you can get to be part of something that nobody else has done, I think it's a special occasion. I don't make light of it. I think No. 10 is magic when you get into streaks, because it doesn't happen very often."

Sharks: San Jose coach Todd McLellan will continue to tweak his lines in the absence of injured rookie Tomas Hertl, who will be out for more than a month with a knee injury. The Sharks will also be without Martin Havlat, who will miss his third straight game with a lower-body injury.

Joe Pavelski, who normally plays center, will likely stay in Hertl's spot as left wing on the top line with Brent Burns and Joe Thornton, who leads the NHL with 37 assists. That trio has five goals in the past three games.

McLellan moved left wing Matt Nieto up to the second line with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau at practice Saturday, according to the San Jose Mercury News, and had Tommy Wingels centering Tyler Kennedy and James Sheppard on the third line.

"I really like our club when we're three deep down the middle," McLellan said, according to the Mercury News. "I think it's obvious -- the playoffs last year, the stretch to finish the season, the beginning of the year -- that that's the best-case scenario for us when everybody's healthy.

"You have to make do with what you have. And we're trying to find ways to win games, one at a time, night after night."

Who's hot: Koivu has seven points in his past five games after a three-point night against Phoenix. He has a goal in each of the past two games. … Thornton has eight assists in his past six games. Pavelski has four goals his past five games.

Injury report: Anaheim defensemen Luca Sbisa (hand) and Sheldon Souray (wrist) and goaltender Viktor Fasth (lower body) are out. … In addition to being without Hertl and Havlat, forwards Adam Burish (lower body) and Raffi Torres (knee) are on injured reserve.

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