In the Crease: Sharks look to take season series from Canucks

In the Crease: Sharks look to take season series from Canucks
November 14, 2013, 10:30 am
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The Sharks won first two meetings with Vancouver this season, but the Canucks took the last one at SAP Center. (USATSI)

Programming note: Sharks-Canucks coverage gets underway today at 6:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live, only on Comcast SportsNet California

Where they stand
Sharks: 11-2-5, 27 points, 3rd Pacific Division, 5th Western Conference
Canucks: 11-7-2, 24 points, 4th Pacific Division, 8th Western Conference

Goals per game: 3.61 (1st)
Goals-against per game: 2.17 (5th)
Power play: 21.2 percent (8th)
Penalty kill: 85.2 percent (8th)

Goals per game: 2.65 (16th)
Goals-against per game: 2.60 (16th)
Power play: 9.7 percent (28th)
Penalty kill: 89.4 percent (1st)

Probable lines
Patrick Marleau– Logan Couture – Tyler Kennedy
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Tommy Wingels
Matt Nieto – Joe Pavelski – Marty Havlat
James Sheppard – Andrew Desjardins – John McCarthy

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Dan Boyle
Brad Stuart – Justin Braun
Scott Hannan – Jason Demers

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Ryan Kesler
Chris Higgins – Mike Santorelli – Alex Burrows
David Booth – Brad Richardson – Zack Kassian
Tom Sestito – Jeremy Walsh – Zac Dalpe

Alex Edler – Jason Garrison
Dan Hamhuis – Chris Tanev
Ryan Stanton – Kevin Bieksa

Roberto Luongo
Eddie Lack

Last game
Sharks: Brad Stuart ended a 65-game regular season goal-scoring drought with an overtime marker to give the Sharks a 3-2 win in Calgary on Tuesday, ending a five-game losing streak (0-1-4). Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau (power play) scored first period goals, and Alex Stalock improved to 2-0 with 11 saves. The Sharks outshot Calgary, 35-13.

Canucks: The Canucks fell to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, 3-1. Tom Sestito scored the Canucks’ only goal, and Eddie Lack allowed two goals on 22 shots in net. Vancouver wrapped up a four-game road trip with a 1-2-1 mark, with the lone win coming against the Sharks on Nov. 7, 4-2. 

Keep an eye on…
Sharks: Joe Thornton. The Sharks’ captain brings a five-game point streak into Thursday’s game, with a goal and five assists over that span. Thornton, who recently recorded his 800th career assist, has 52 points (14g, 38a) in 44 career games against the Canucks.

Canucks: Kevin Bieksa. The Canucks defenseman leads the team with a +9 rating, and has nine assists in 20 games. Termed a “gunslinger” recently by head coach John Tortorella for his attack mentality, Bieksa has three goals and 13 assists for 16 points in 25 career games against the Sharks.

Sharks: Raffi Torres (right ACL surgery), Adam Burish (back surgery), and Brent Burns (upper body) are out.

Canucks: Jordan Schroeder (sprained ankle), Jannik Hansen (upper body) and Dale Weise (lower body) are out.

Season/All-Time series
This is the fourth and final game this season between the Sharks and Canucks. The Sharks won the first two in the first week of the season, each by a 4-1 margin, while Vancouver beat the Sharks at SAP Center a week ago, 4-2.

Joe Thornton (1g, 3a) and Logan Couture (4a) lead the Sharks in scoring in the season series, while Vancouver has five different players with two points apiece.

[REWIND: Niemi, Sharks outworked by Canucks in defeat]

Antti Niemi is 2-1-0 with a 2.48 goals-against average and .902 save percentage against the Canucks this season, while Roberto Luongo is 1-2-0 with 3.02 GAA and .897 SP vs. San Jose.

The Sharks are 43-43-9-5 all-time against Vancouver.

“It doesn’t seem right to have to make the extra miles, but that’s the hand we’re dealt. We’re going to deal with it the best we can, but it seems pretty unnecessary.”Dan Boyle, on the odd nature of the Sharks’ current back-and-forth road trip

Burning question
Which Sharks player has been the biggest pleasant surprise this season?

Leave your answer in the comments section below.