Tonight the Ducks visit the San Jose Sharks at the HP Pavilion, in a game, err, series that the Ducks can finally say they have had success taking part in this year.
In the series opener, the Ducks shutout the Sharks 1-0 start off their ‘North American’ season. They followed that up with a 3-2 win in their first road game of the year, otherwise known as the "Jason Blake laceration game". In a Boxing Day bout, the Ducks continued their mastery of their Northern rivals with another 3-2 trouncing. Only once – January 4th – have the Sharks beaten the Ducks.
This is the penultimate matchup between the two California rivals, and a game where the Ducks are looking to bounce back from a horrific final 20 minutes they had last night against the visiting Nashville Predators.
Since the last matchup between the two clubs, the Sharks have improved for better or for worse. The Sharks find themselves one point of out 8th spot in the West, with the most games in hand of all the bubble teams. The Ducks are getting their first look at recent acquisitions TJ Galiardi (0 points since joining San Jose), and Daniel Winnik (1 assist since joining San Jose) who the Sharks obtained from Colorado. As well, tonight will be the first time Anaheim plays against right-winger Martin Havlat, as he returned Thursday from a 39-game absence due to a torn left hamstring. Havlat is a player the Sharks have loved having back in the lineup, as they have amassed a record of 18 – 7 – 3 when the Czech sniper is healthy.
For the Ducks, they look to play spoiler. Although they have lost six straight on the road, defenseman Toni Lydman looks to figure back into the lineup tonight, while Jonas Hiller looks to get his 33rd consecutive start, and 68th overall. Hiller has a record of 2 – 1 and a GAA of 1.69 against San Jose this season. As well, indications are that Head Coach Bruce Boudreau has finally placed Devante Smith-Pelly on the1st line. Odds are he is playing next to Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
Enjoy the game folks! Go Ducks Go!