Dare it be said? The Anaheim Ducks are starting to look like the team many expected them to be at the beginning of the season, with wins in their last three and four straight home games. Tonight it's the second leg of a back-to-back as the Ducks face a San Jose team that has been battling injuries and spotty form since opening the season 4-0-0.
Ducks: Friday, 11/6 vs Columbus. "Manson Tallies First Goal, Twins Catch Fire In 4-2 Ducks Victory"
Sharks: Thursday, 11/5 vs Florida. "Top Line Chews Up Panthers"
Think Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry were happy to play together again with Patrick Maroon on their left wing? The trio generated a power play goal and six assists, as Maroon's deflection goal gave the Ducks a 2-0 advantage in the second period, and Getzlaf and Perry had three helpers apiece. It's the most points in a game the two have compiled since chalking up four each (Getzlaf a goal and three assists, Perry two goals and two assists) in game one against Calgary in the Pacific Division Final last season. The last time the Twins accounted for six points in a regular season game was November 29 last season against San Jose, where Getzlaf and a goal and two assists while Perry scored twice and dished once.
Frederik Andersen continues his statement-making play after sitting the first game of the five-game road trip last week. In the string of seven straight starts Andersen has stopped 212 of 225 for a .942 save percentage with a 2.28 goals against average. He stopped 40 of 42 in the season opening loss up in San Jose the last time these two teams met, and posted a .900 or better SV% in all but one of his 11 appearances thus far this season. However that one sub-.900 game was the his second start in as many nights against Dallas, so tonight may be a spot where Anton Khudobin gets the nod for the first time since allowing five goals on 29 shots at Nashville on October 22.
With the return of Josh Manson to the lineup Anaheim switched up the defense pairings, slotting Cam Fowler alongside Kevin Bieksa while Hampus Lindholm skated with Manson. With Fowler leading the way at 22:26 of ice time, he and Bieksa both posted positive shot attempt differentials at even strength (Fowler's +7 equalled Jakob Silfverberg for best among skaters, while Bieksa and Sami Vatanen were each +5) in a top pair role. As a team Anaheim got the better of both the scoring chances 21-16 and high danger chances 10-8 as well; while it was the second leg of a two-in-two for Columbus, consider it an encouraging sign from the back end that will be put to the test tonight should the pairs stay the same.
Since their four-game winning streak to open the season San Jose has been unable to put together wins in consecutive contests. Joel Ward has been a major producer for the team in a second line role with Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau, second in the team with seven goals and twelve points. Meanwhile new captain Joe Pavelski has been up to his usual tricks, leading the team with eight goals (three game winners) and 13 points, and for other un-shocking news Joe Thornton tops the team with eight assists. In net Martin Jones figures to return after Alex Stalock started the win against Florida.
The organization is billing today as 'Hockey Day In San Jose' as both the Sharks and AHL's Barracuda will be playing at SAP Center, both against the Anaheim organization. It's the first of 13 times this season the Barracuda and Sharks will play a home double-header, with the puck dropping in the AHL contest at 1:15. The 7-2-0-0 Gulls face the 3-3-0-1 Barracuda with nine points on eight goals and an assist from Nick Ritchie as team tops, while defenseman Brandon Montour has seven points from a goal and six assists, Chris Mueller has a goal and five assists, and Michael Sgarbossa has six assists. Between the pipes John Gibson is 5-1-0 so far this season with a .920 SV% and 2.32 GAA.
Two hours before face off we'll have the game thread up, featuring the full Stat Pack, likely with expected lines, and of course your Numbers For Nerds.