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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, December 18th (All times eastern)

San Jose Sharks (25-3-3) at Detroit Red Wings (20-6-4), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Detroit Red Wings captured their 11th Stanley Cup championship in team history last season. The San Jose Sharks appear to be the favorites to win their first-ever league title this year.

The two Western Conference powerhouses square off tonight in Motown at Joe Louis Arena.

The Red Wings had the best record in the NHL a season ago, earning 115 points and the top seed on the way to a championship. The Sharks finished second with 108 points, but they have turned the tables on Detroit this season.

Heading into tonight's matchup, the Sharks, thanks in part to a current 15- game point streak (12-0-3) lead the NHL with 53 points, tied with the 1929-30 Boston Bruins for most points through the season's first 31 games. The Red Wings are second in the conference with 44 points.

San Jose had won three straight, but allowed Columbus to net the game-tying goal midway through the third period before the Blue Jackets' R.J. Umberger scored 2:55 into overtime to hand the Sharks a 2-1 loss.

David Setoguchi netted his 16th goal of the season, tied for the team lead with Patrick Marleau, who assisted on the tally to give him four goals and three helpers over his last four games.

Evgeni Nabokov finished with 30 saves for the Sharks, who are 25-3-3 this season and haven't lost in regulation since a November 9 setback in Phoenix. The club had also won five straight on the road before last night's loss that dropped it to 9-3-1 as the road team this year.

The Sharks and Red Wings battle for the second time this season tonight. San Jose won the first meeting, 4-2, at home on October 30 for its second straight win in the series. The Sharks have also won four of their last seven over the Red Wings and two of the last three in Detroit.

However, that success in the Motor City is recent, as the Sharks are just 2-7-2 with a tie in their last 12 at Joe Louis Arena.

The Red Wings have hit a small bump on the road as of late. Though they are 5-2-0 so far in the month of December, those two losses have come in the last three games. That includes a 3-2 home setback to Colorado on Monday.

Marian Hossa and Tomas Holmstrom scored for Detroit, which had won five straight at home. Chris Osgood was beaten for three goals on 27 shots in taking the loss, but also missed practice on Wednesday due to a groin issue that will likely keep him out of tonight's contest.

Detroit began a four-game homestand versus the Avs and will also host Los Angeles and St. Louis on the residency. It is 9-3-2 overall as the host this season.

Conklin is 1-2-1 with a tie and 2.14 goals against average versus the Sharks, while Nabokov is just 6-13-1 with a 3.48 GAA versus the Red Wings.

12/18 10:54:01 ET


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