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Surging Sharks head to Big Apple

by Eric Goodman
SHARKS (6-3-0) at RANGERS (3-3-3)


Season series: This is the lone meeting of the season between these cross-conference clubs. The Rangers were victorious at San Jose last season, while the Sharks won at Madison Square Garden in the teams' only game of the 2009-10 season.

Big Story: The Sharks are one of the hottest teams in the League, having won five straight games and all on the road. The Rangers have managed to get at least a point in six of their first nine games, but are still in search of their first home win of the season after playing their first seven games away from MSG.

Team Scope:

Sharks: San Jose will finally return home on Nov. 3, but the road has been very friendly thus far with the Sharks taking the first five contests of their current six-game road trip. If the Sharks can get a similar effort to what they turned in during an exciting 3-2 overtime win at the New York Islanders on Saturday, then they should provide formidable competition for a Rangers team still looking to find their stride.

The Sharks and Isles traded two goals apiece over the first two periods and went scoreless in the third on Saturday, but then defenseman Brent Burns' rocket one-timer found its way past Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro for the win.

"What we talked about, we didn't do," said a chuckling Sharks coach Todd McClellan in regards to a timeout taken just before Burns scored. "But we scored the goal, so we'll take it."

Rangers: The addition of 2004 Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards in the off-season brought a wave of optimism to the Blueshirt faithful, but the proper fit for Richards is still being worked out.

Rangers coach John Tortorella split up previous linemates Marian Gaborik and Richards onto two separate lines during parts of Saturday's home game against Ottawa, which produced only bittersweet results. The sweet part of that move was that both players produced three points each, but the bitterness was brought on by the fact that New York surrendered a 4-1 lead and eventually fell to Ottawa in the shootout.

"We have got to learn and grab momentum," Tortorella told reporters after the game. "After the second (Ottawa) goal, you can see we froze a bit. But those are things we are going to have to learn."

Who's Hot: Forwards Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture are both riding five-game points streaks for the Sharks...New York's Richards broke a brief three-game cold spell by notching a goal and two assists in the losing effort to Ottawa on Saturday.

Injury Report: For San Jose, Antero Niittymaki (hip), Alex Stalock (knee) and Frazer McLaren (hip) are on IR...Rangers forward Mike Rupp was still out for Saturday's game against Ottawa due to what coach Tortorella is calling a "cranky" knee situation.
Stat Pack: The Sharks had the lowest penalty-killing percentage in the Pacific Division as of Sunday night with just 72.7%.

Puck Drop: When the Rangers brought on tough guy Mike Rupp in the off-season, they were hoping that the experienced forward would bring a level of much-needed grit to the lineup. But coach Tortorella might not get Rupp back for Monday.

"It's a problem because we just have not been able to get him on the ice with any type of consistency practicing," Tortorella told Blueshirts United on Sunday. "I'll give you this, it's a concern."
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