In the Crease: Sharks close out the year in Anaheim

Highlights: Early goals from Burns, Couture propel Sharks

In the Crease: Sharks close out the year in Anaheim
December 31, 2013, 9:45 am
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The Sharks are 6-2-0 in their last eight games, but just 11-7-3 on the road this season. (AP)

Programming note: Sharks-Ducks coverage gets underway at 4:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live, only on Comcast SportsNet California

Where they stand
Sharks: 25-8-6, 56 points, 2nd Pacific Division, 4th Western Conference
Ducks: 28-8-5, 61 points, 1st Pacific Division, 2nd Western Conference

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 3.13 (4th)
Goals-against per game: 2.38 (8th)
Power play: 18.5 percent (13th)
Penalty kill: 82.4 percent (11th)

Ducks
Goals per game: 3.15 (3rd)
Goals-against per game: 2.42 (10th)
Power play: 14.5 percent (26th)
Penalty kill: 81.4 percent (16th)

Probable lines

Sharks
Joe Pavelski – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Matt Nieto
Tyler Kennedy – Bracken Kearns – James Sheppard
Freddie Hamilton – Andrew Desjardins – Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Matt Irwin – Dan Boyle
Brad Stuart – Jason Demers

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Ducks
Dustin Penner – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey – Mathieu Perreault – Teemu Selanne
Daniel Winnik – Saku Koivu – Andrew Cogliano
Patrick Maroon – Nick Bonino – Jakob Silfverberg

Francois Beauchemin – Hampus Lindholm
Cam Fowler – Ben Lovejoy
Sami Vatanen – Bryan Allen

Jonas Hiller
Frederik Andersen

The latest

Sharks: Brent Burns had a goal and an assist, and Logan Couture and Bracken Kearns also scored in a 3-1 win over the Ducks at SAP Center on Sunday. Antti Niemi made 30 saves for his 21st win, in what was the Sharks’ fourth victory in a row. The Sharks are 6-2-0 in their last eight games, but just 11-7-3 on the road this season.

[RELATED: Instant Replay: Niemi, Sharks snap Ducks' winning streak]

Ducks: Anaheim’s 10-game winning streak was snapped with the loss in San Jose on Sunday. Pat Maroon scored the Ducks’ only goal, and rookie Frederik Andersen suffered just his second loss this season (9-2-0). The Ducks play six of their next eight games at home, where they have a 14-0-2 mark.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Jason Demers. The defenseman has recorded one point in each of his last four games, including his first two goals, since he was scratched against the Kings on Dec. 19. He’s been rewarded with power play time, lately, too, and is now playing more than 20 minutes a night on a regular basis after struggling to remain in the lineup for the last two-plus seasons.

Ducks: Saku Koivu. Koivu’s line, with Andrew Cogliano and Daniel Winnik, has been a productive group of late combing for 10 points in the last three games. Koivu has led the way with three goals and two assists over that span. In 37 career games against the Sharks, the 39-year-old Finn has 23 points (4g, 19a).

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee), Marty Havlat (lower body), Raffi Torres (right ACL surgery), Tommy Wingels (head into boards) and Adam Burish (back surgery) are out.

Ducks: Sheldon Souray (right wrist), Luca Sbisa (right hand) and Viktor Fasth (muscle inflammation) are out.

Season/All-Time series

This is the first of two visits to Honda Center for the Sharks.

The Sharks, 2-0 against Anaheim this season including a 4-3 shootout win on Nov. 30, host the Ducks on March 20 and visit Anaheim on April 9.

All-time, the Sharks are 59-45-4-7 against the Ducks.

Quoteable

"I owe it to this organization. They gave me an opportunity. I don't know how many organizations out there would give a 32-year-old an opportunity like they gave me last year in the playoffs. You just keep working at it, and setting your goals high. I've dreamt about scoring in the NHL since I was a kid, so it's an amazing feeling." – Bracken Kearns, after his first career NHL goal on Sunday

Burning question

What was your most memorable Sharks moment in 2013? Leave your answer in the comments section below.