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Sharks look to extend hot start against Senators

by Matthew Mankiewich /

SENATORS (1-0-2) at SHARKS (4-0-0)


Season series: They'll be done with each other early; these teams have both of their meetings in October. The Ottawa Senators snapped a five-game losing streak to the San Jose Sharks in their most recent meeting on Jan. 19, 2012, in a 4-1 road win. Patrick Marleau scored the winning goal in each of the Sharks' previous five victories.

Big story: The Sharks and Colorado Avalanche are the only two teams in the NHL who are 4-0-0. San Jose leads the NHL in goals for (21) and goal differential (plus-16).

The Senators are on the fourth of a six-game season-opening road trip and come in off back-to-back one-point games, a 5-4 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs and a 3-2 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday.

Team Scope:

Senators: Getting four of a possible six points is not considered a bad start, but coach Paul MacLean knows it could be significantly worse, and one glaring weakness has been the penalty kill. The Senators have been shorthanded 16 times in three games. At more than five per game, that leads the League. They've allowed four goals for a 75 percent kill rate that ranks 23rd.

"Are we totally happy with how we're doing it, how we're playing and going about how it's happening?" MacLean said to the Ottawa Citizen. "No. But that's what we have practice for. That's why we have video and that's why we have coaches, to get it sorted out and get ourselves to our identity as soon as we can. We're not there yet. We're there in a lot of ways, but the discipline part of it has to be there, and if we're more disciplined, then our penalty kill will be better."

Sharks: Tomas Hertl won't score every night, and the Sharks won't play the Canucks every night either. But San Jose did have one of the two factors in its favor at Rogers Arena on Thursday, and it wasn't the teenaged rookie. The win was the Sharks' ninth in a row against the Canucks, playoffs and regular season inclusive, but that wasn't what coach Todd McLellan emphasized afterward. Balanced scoring and superb goaltending from Antti Niemi won the night.

"I think we've been getting it from everybody, and when they're not scoring they're at least creating some momentum," McLellan said. "The [Andrew] Desjardins line, I think they got 7-8 minutes of ice time tonight but they made their ice time count and that's real important for our team to have success. The way the game evolved they didn't get to play their fourth line very much so we tried to keep our legs fresh using four. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't."

Who's hot: Forward Kyle Turris leads the Senators with four points, but no one on the team has more than one goal; 13 of 20 skaters do have at least one point. … Hertl was held off the scoresheet for the first time this season, but he continues to lead the League in goals (6) and points (7). Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic leads the League with a plus-7 rating, and Niemi's four wins also are League-best going into Friday.

Injury report: Ottawa captain Jason Spezza (groin) sat out the game Wednesday and is questionable. … San Jose forward Adam Burish (lower body) has missed three games and is questionable. Defenseman Brad Stuart is serving a three-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of New York Rangers forward Rick Nash on Tuesday.

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