April 6, 2011
Programming note: It's a busy day on Comcast SportsNet! With five games on our air Wednesday, we've put together a page for you to find exactly where your team's game can be found. Check it out here.
SHARKS (47-23-9) vs.
UPDATE: Goalie Antero Niittymaki will start for the Sharks; Ryane Clowe will not dress due to a lower body injury and Scott Nichol will play in two of the final three games, although no determination has been made regarding his status for tonight.
Coverage begins at 7 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California
ANAHEIM (AP) -- The Anaheim Ducks would have already wrapped up a playoff berth had they simply won in regulation the last time they took the ice.
Now a home victory over the Pacific Division champion San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night still won't guarantee them a postseason trip.
Anaheim (44-30-5) is just ahead of both Calgary and Dallas with three games to play, and owns the tiebreaker over each. The Ducks can keep the Flames, who have two games remaining, from catching them if they defeat San Jose, but the Stars have three games left and can still move past them.
RATTO: An early look at the Stanley Cup playoffs
This could have been avoided had Anaheim defeated Dallas at home in regulation on Sunday, but it suffered a 4-3 loss. The defeat was especially discouraging because the Ducks had a pair of potential tying goals taken away in the final 2:04 of the third on an interference call and a hand pass.
"At this time of year, it's tough to dwell on," winger Bobby Ryan said. "You have to just put it in the past. We have to regroup and get ready for San Jose."
Anaheim is hoping to avenge Saturday's disappointing 4-2 loss to the Sharks.
The Ducks, who had won 12 of 15 before losing their last two, led 2-0 after one period, but San Jose rallied to hand Anaheim its third defeat in five meetings this season.
The Sharks (47-23-9) defeated Los Angeles 6-1 on Monday to wrap up their fourth straight division title, an impressive accomplishment considering all five Pacific teams could make the playoffs and San Jose was in last place following a six-game losing streak in January.
The Sharks are 26-4-4 since then, and now they're hoping for the Western Conference's second seed. They are one point ahead of third-place Detroit.
"We have a pretty darned good division, so it's a feather in your cap," said Joe Thornton, who had a goal and an assist Monday to give him 999 career points. "But we still have some work to do. We're still fighting to get that second seed. But it's a good step for us."
Kyle Wellwood added a goal and two assists, and defensemen Dan Boyle and Marc-Edouard Vlasic also scored for the Sharks, who have outscored opponents 43-19 in going 8-0-1 since March 15.
Patrick Marleau has been instrumental to this offensive surge, tallying 10 goals and nine assists in his last 10 games. He had two goals against the Ducks on Saturday.
Goaltender Antti Niemi, who has made 34 straight starts, has been just as important to San Jose's playoff push, posting a 1.99 goals-against average with a shutout in his last nine games. He stopped 20 shots against the Ducks over the weekend and is 2-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA against them this season.
BRAZIL: To Nemo or Nitty? That is the question
Niemi was aided by some strong defense in front of him Saturday, as NHL scoring leader Corey Perry was held without a shot for the first time since Feb. 2, also against the Sharks.
Perry, who scored his 47th goal Sunday, has 16 goals and nine assists in his last 13 games, but he has no goals in his last three games against San Jose.
NOTES: The Sharks have won three of their five games against the Ducks this season. San Jose has also won 18 of its last 29 trips to Anaheim. ... The Ducks have lost each of their last two games after losing just three times in their previous 15 contests. ... San Jose has won four straight and eight of its last nine games, scoring at least four goals in seven of their eight wins in that span. The Sharks have collected points in 12 of their last 13 contests. ... Patrick Marleau has 10 goals and nine assists in his last 10 games and had two goals and one assist in his last game against the Ducks on April 2. ... Corey Perry has 18 points (11g, 7a) during his current nine-game point streak. Perry has three goals and five assists in his last six games against the Sharks, including two points in each of his last two against them. ... Currently at 999 career points, Joe Thornton will be looking to become the fourth player this season to reach the 1000 NHL point milestone (Daniel Alfredsson, Alex Kovalev and Jarome Iginla).