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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, January 21st (All times eastern)

Anaheim Ducks (23-20-7) at San Jose Sharks (33-10-8), 10:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Though they are on opposite ends of the Pacific Division, few teams are playing better right now than both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks.

The Ducks leave behind a lengthy home winning streak and embark on a season- high six-game road trip that begins with a matchup with the Sharks, who play the first of five straight games at HP Pavilion tonight.

The Sharks lead the NHL with 74 points, two more than the Chicago Blackhawks, and own a 13-point advantage over the second-place Phoenix Coyotes in the Pacific Division. The Ducks, meanwhile, are tied for last in the division and 10th in the NHL with 53 points, four back of a playoff spot.

The Ducks recorded a 5-4 triumph over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday, their seventh win in the last eight games overall and eighth straight at home. It wasn't easy for Anaheim, which raced out to a 4-0 lead in the first period before holding on.

The Ducks set a number of club records in that opening frame, including new marks for the fastest two, three and four goals to start a game. Ryan Getzlaf scored 50 seconds into the contest, Evgeny Artyukhin followed just 63 seconds later and Mike Brown made it a 3-0 game 5:23 into the game. Bobby Ryan capped the barrage with a power-play goal at the 10:26 mark.

However, it was Troy Bodie's insurance goal in the third period -- his second career tally -- that turned into the game-winner. Jonas Hiller finished with 41 saves in the win.

"Bodie got a huge goal for us there late in the third period," Getzlaf said. "Those are things that we need to win hockey games. Tonight wasn't the prettiest effort throughout the whole game, but we were able to get that early lead and hold it."

Anaheim will try to hold onto its momentum, as it has lost six of its last eight on the road and is just 7-12-5 as the guest this year. The Ducks have also dropped five of their last six at San Jose, losing both meetings there this season.

In fact, the Sharks have won all four meetings between the clubs in 2009-10, as well as five straight and seven of the last eight in the series. That does not include last season's Western Conference Quarterfinals, in which the eighth-seeded Ducks knocked off the President Trophy-winning Sharks in six games.

San Jose comes into this matchup with an offense that has scored 14 times in its last two games. One night after a 9-1 win over Calgary on Monday, San Jose defeated Los Angeles by a 5-1 count.

Patrick Marleau had two of the Sharks' three power-play goals against the Kings, while one of Ryane Clowe's two goals in the game also game on the man advantage. Dan Boyle added a goal and two assists, while Evgeni Nabokov made 36 saves in helping the Sharks to their third straight win and fifth in six games.

"We expected a push from them and they had real strong one," San Jose head coach Todd McLellan said. "Nabokov really stood his ground and made a lot of tight saves around the crease. He didn't leave a lot of garbage hanging around, so we were fortunate to have him playing sharp."

San Jose is 16-4-6 at home this year and has won eight of its last 11 as the host.

Marleau, who leads the NHL with 34 goals, has four tallies and three assists in four games versus the Ducks this year. He scored twice the last time the teams met, a 5-2 home win for the Sharks on December 26.

01/21 11:18:20 ET


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