Ducks-Sharks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 25, 2011
The San Jose Sharks carried plenty of momentum into the holiday weekend. A home matchup against the woeful Anaheim Ducks could help them pick up right where they left off. On the verge of matching its longest winning streak of the season, San Jose looks to extend Anaheim's franchise-worst road losing streak to 14 games Monday night. Since posting a 2-5-2 record from Nov. 26-Dec. 13, San Jose (19-10-3) has won four straight behind an average of 4.0 goals and strong goaltending from Antti Niemi. Niemi, 10-2-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average over his last 12 home games, made 28 saves during Friday's 2-1 shootout win over Los Angeles. "Going in (to the Christmas break) with a win was important," said coach Todd McLellan, whose team won a season-high five straight Oct. 21-29. "We're starting to feel a little bit better about ourselves again. It's something we want to maintain coming back on the 26th." A visit from the Ducks (9-19-6) might help the Sharks do just that. Though Anaheim has taken three straight in this series, including two this season in mid-October, it has been outscored 45-22 during an 0-9-4 skid on the road. The Ducks' 24 points are the second-fewest in the league, ahead of only Columbus (22). Anaheim has dropped four straight and 15 of 18 overall following Thursday's 3-2 shootout loss at Los Angeles. "We are a little desperate at this point," said captain Ryan Getzlaf, pointless in three of his last four games. While there doesn't seem to be anything pointing to a significant turnaround, new coach Bruce Boudreau thinks getting back on track starts with the team's mental state. "The difference between winning and losing sometimes is just the attitude and believing you're going to win or believing you're going to lose," Boudreau, 2-6-2 since taking over, told the team's official website. Jonas Hiller made 32 saves versus the Kings, dropping to 1-7-5 on the road. Hiller turned away 31 shots in a 1-0 victory over the Sharks on Oct. 14 for his lone shutout of the season, and Dan Ellis made 41 saves three days later in a 3-2 victory at San Jose. Hiller has surrendered two goals in each of his five career starts at San Jose but has gone 2-3-0. Joe Thornton has 14 points over his last seven home meetings with the Ducks, but the Sharks captain only has one goal in his past 16 games overall. Center Logan Couture has been held without a point in his last six meetings with Anaheim, but he's totaled 11 in as many games this month (eight goals, three assists). Niemi has gone 3-3-0 with a 2.19 GAA lifetime versus Anaheim. Though things are certainly looking up for the Sharks, their short-handed efforts are somewhat of a concern. San Jose has given up nine power-play goals in 31 chances (29.0 percent) over its last 10 games. "We have to get the kill when we get a chance," forward Joe Pavelski said. "We're not satisfied with giving one up. That's not how we are and we can't be like that. (We can't) say 'we weren't in good spots, it didn't happen for us,' - it has to happen."
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