In the Crease: Sharks try to end Ducks' streak

Highlights: Sharks go to third consecutive shootout vs. Coyotes

In the Crease: Sharks try to end Ducks' streak
December 29, 2013, 9:45 am
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Saku Koivu scored two goals to lead the Ducks to their 10th-straight win Saturday against Phoenix. (AP)

Programming note: Sharks-Ducks coverage gets underway at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live, only on Comcast SportsNet California

Where they stand
Sharks: 24-8-6, 54 points, 2nd Pacific Division, 4th Western Conference
Ducks: 28-7-5, 61 points, 1st Pacific Division, 1st Western Conference

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 3.13 (4th)
Goals-against per game: 2.42 (10th)
Power play: 18.7 percent (13th)
Penalty kill: 82.2 percent (14th)

Ducks
Goals per game: 3.20 (3rd)
Goals-against per game: 2.40 (T - 8th)
Power play: 14.6 percent (26th)
Penalty kill: 81.1 percent (19th)

Probable lines

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

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

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

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

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

Frederik Andersen
Jonas Hiller

The latest

Sharks: The Sharks won their third straight game, all in the shootout, 4-3 on Friday in Phoenix. Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns each had a goal and an assist, and Patrick Marleau scored on the power play. Joe Thornton added to his league-leading assist total with a pair of helpers and Antti Niemi made 34 saves for his 20th win. Sunday is the first of two straight games against Anaheim, as the clubs meet again on New Year’s Eve at Honda Center.

[RELATED: Instant Replay: Sharks top Coyotes in shootout]

Ducks: Anaheim also beat the Coyotes in its previous game, on Saturday at home in overtime, 3-2. The Ducks have won a franchise-record 10 in a row, and are 14-0-2 on home ice. Saku Koivu had the overtime marker, and added a shorthanded goal in regulation. Jonas Hiller made 23 saves for his eighth win in a row in net. The Ducks are 11-0-2 in their last 13 games.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Matt Nieto. The rookie winger looks like he’ll get a chance on the Logan Couture-Patrick Marleau line, and he’ll be looking to end a 13-game scoreless drought. Nieto had a brief stint in the minors recently, but could be back for good now that Tomas Hertl is out long-term. He hasn’t done a whole lot since his first month in the NHL, but maybe playing with two of the club’s most skilled players will jump-start his game.

Ducks: Hampus Lindholm. The rookie defenseman is playing on the Ducks’ top defense pair with Francois Beauchemin, and in 37 games, the 19-year-old has three goals and 10 assists. Lindholm, who was drafted sixth overall in the 2012 draft, has one goal, three assists and an impressive +10 rating in his last seven games. His +21 on the season is tied for the NHL lead.

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee), Marty Havlat (lower body), Raffi Torres (right ACL surgery), 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

The Sharks won the first meeting of the season series, at home on Nov. 30, 4-3 in a shootout. After the meeting on Dec. 31, the Sharks host the Ducks again on March 20 and visit Anaheim on April 9.

All-time, the Sharks are 58-45-4-7 against the Ducks.

Quoteable

“First good practice post-Christmas, we wanted to look at some different people in different spots. I said it before, until we find four comfortable lines, we’re going to keep moving it around.” – Todd McLellan, after the Sharks practice on Saturday

Burning question

How would you evaluate Matt Nieto’s season so far? Leave your answer in the comments section below.