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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, April 8th (All times eastern)

Vancouver Canucks (48-27-5) at San Jose Sharks (49-20-11), 10:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Canucks know they will enter the playoffs as the Western Conference's third seed. The Sharks' positioning is a little less certain.

San Jose is aiming to be the top seed in the West for a second season in a row and it will try to reobtain that spot this evening versus visiting Vancouver at HP Pavilion.

The Sharks fell back into a tie with the Blackhawks for the most points in the West with 109 after Chicago's victory over St. Louis on Wednesday. Both clubs have two games remaining in the regular season, though Chicago is off again until Friday.

San Jose clinched its third straight Pacific Division title on Tuesday with a 2-1 triumph at Calgary. Evgeni Nabokov made 38 saves and both Rob Blake and Jamie McGinn scored to give the Sharks a 6-1-1 mark since a six-game skid.

"I thought we had a very good two periods, in the third we got what we expected from [the Flames], anything they could throw at us," said San Jose head coach Todd McLellan.

Tuesday was San Jose's final road game of the regular season. The Sharks are 25-6-8 at home, where they have won three straight and six of their last seven.

San Jose will try to grab hold of the top spot versus a Vancouver team it has beaten in two of the three meetings this year as well as in nine of the last 11 matchups overall. The Canucks have lost five straight at HP Pavilion as well.

With 101 points, the Northwest Division-champion Canucks are locked into the third seed. With two games left, they can also match the franchise single- season record of 105 points set in 2006-07.

Vancouver had won two straight before Tuesday's 4-3 shootout setback to Colorado. Roberto Luongo made 28 saves and stopped the first two skaters he saw in the shootout before Matt Duchene beat him in the third round for the session's only goal.

The Avalanche clinched a playoff spot with the win.

"It was a hard-fought game cause those guys were desperate on the other side," said Luongo. "I thought we played good and it was a good battle on both sides but we weren't able to get that extra point."

Daniel Sedin had two goals and Mason Raymond scored the other for the Canucks. Henrik Sedin added an assist to up his NHL-leading points total to 107, one more than Washington's Alex Ovechkin. Henrik has four goals and 23 assists over his last 18 games, as well as 15 helpers and 23 points in 35 career games versus the Sharks.

Vancouver has lost four of its last five on the road and ends its regular season at home versus Calgary on Saturday.

04/08 11:22:15 ET


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