Series (Game 4 of 6)

San Jose leads 5-1

Game 1: Saturday, October 3rd
Game 2: Saturday, November 21st
Game 3: Thursday, December 17th
Game 4: Saturday, December 26th
Game 5: Thursday, January 21st
Game 6: Sunday, March 14th

Ducks 2

(15-16-7, 37 pts)

Sharks 5

(23-8-7, 53 pts)

10:30 PM ET, December 26, 2009

SAP Center, San Jose, California

1 2 3 T
ANA 0 1 12
SJ 2 3 05

J. Thornton (Sharks - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 3

P. Marleau (Sharks - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

D. Heatley (Sharks - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 2

Ducks-Sharks Preview


The San Jose Sharks were upset in the first round of last season's playoffs by the Anaheim Ducks, but they've certainly begun to earn a measure of revenge on their division rivals.

The Sharks can improve to 4-0-0 this season against Anaheim as the last-place Ducks visit San Jose for the second time in 10 days on Saturday night.

After earning the top seed in the Western Conference and the Presidents' Trophy during the 2008-09 season, the Sharks were shocked in six games by eighth-seeded Anaheim.

But San Jose (22-8-7) has returned to the top of the West -- tied with Chicago -- while the Ducks (15-15-7) have encountered some unforeseen struggles, sinking to the bottom of the Pacific Division.

Their head-to-head play has contributed to both teams' statuses. The Sharks won twice in Anaheim earlier in the season, then beat the Ducks 4-1 at home on Dec. 17.

NHL points leader Joe Thornton factored in all of San Jose's scoring in that game with two goals and two assists, helping the Sharks snap a season-worst five-game losing streak.

They've now won three straight after a 3-2 road win over the Blackhawks on Tuesday, but they still feel like there's room for improvement after Chicago outshot the Sharks 47-14.

"We didn't have many chances, so we were lucky to create enough to win the game," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "Certainly when you look at it in the big picture, we didn't play near well enough."

Evgeni Nabokov was certainly at his best with 45 saves. The goalie, named Friday to Russia's national team for the upcoming Vancouver Olympics, has allowed a total of five goals in his last three starts, all victories.

Nabokov is 3-0-0 with a 1.34 goals-against average against the Ducks this season.

That may not bode well considering occasional offensive problems have lingered for Anaheim, which managed just 21 shots in a 4-0 loss at Phoenix on Wednesday -- the same total it had last week against San Jose.

But the Ducks' bigger issue in that game may have been in net, as goalie Jonas Hiller was replaced with Jean-Sebastien Giguere during the third period after allowing three goals on 24 shots in the first 40 minutes.

"I thought as poorly as we played it should have been a 1-0 hockey game going into the third period," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "I'm not dumping on (Jonas Hiller) and saying it's his fault. We didn't have a lot going. But we have to have those saves made in those situations."

Hiller, though, has been mostly reliable lately, winning four straight starts with a 1.76 GAA before Wednesday's loss.

The defeats at San Jose and Phoenix were the Ducks' only regulation losses in their last 10 games, as they've gone 5-2-3 over that span. Rookie Dan Sexton, playing in his first 10 NHL games, has five goals and three assists.

Including postseason, the Ducks are 9-5-0 in their last 14 trips to San Jose -- an impressive record considering that the Sharks are 83-34-19 at home in that stretch.

San Jose, 9-2-5 at HP Pavilion, is opening a three-game homestand and will play 15 of its next 19 in northern California.