Programming note: Canucks-Sharks coverage gets underway tonight at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
Where they stand
Sharks: 7-4-2, 16 points, 5th Pacific Division
Canucks: 9-4-0, 18 points, 2nd Pacific Division
Sharks: The Sharks haven’t played since last Saturday, when they skated to a 3-1 home win over the Islanders behind goals from Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture and James Sheppard, and 19 saves from Antti Niemi, who was making his fourth straight start. San Jose has gained seven of a possible eight points over its last four games, and after tonight, will go right back on the road for a seven-game trip beginning in Dallas on Saturday.
Canucks: Vancouver scored five unanswered goals to cruise to a 5-2 win over the Avalanche in Denver on Tuesday. Nick Bonino scored twice in the win, his first multi-goal game for the Canucks since he was acquired from Anaheim as part of the Ryan Kesler deal. In net, Ryan Miller made 20 saves to record his league leading ninth win. The surging Canucks have won five of their last six, and visit L.A. and Anaheim this weekend.
Keep an eye on…
Sharks: Tyler Kennedy. Last year was a struggle for Kennedy, who ended up being a healthy scratch in the playoffs in his first season in teal. The 28-year-old winger is anxious to make things right, and after an upper body injury in training camp he’s finally ready to make his season debut tonight on the Sharks’ third line. Kennedy had three points (2g, 1a) and 12 shots in a three-game stint in AHL Worcester on a conditioning assignment last weekend.
Canucks: Radim Vrbata. The Canucks added the winger via free agency from Phoenix to play on the Sedin line, and the results have been outstanding. Vrbata has five goals and seven assists for 12 points, and all three players on the line are in the top 25 in league scoring. The 33-year-old has a team-leading 46 shots on goal.
Goals per game: 3.00 (8th)
Goals-against per game: 2.54 (14th)
Power play: 25.0 percent (4th)
Penalty kill: 82.5 percent (13th)
Goals per game: 3.23 (3rd)
Goals-against per game: 2.77 (17th)
Power play: 20.8 percent (9th)
Penalty kill: 88.2.percent (4th)
Matt Nieto – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Tommy Wingels
Tomas Hertl – James Sheppard – Tyler Kennedy
Barclay Goodrow – Adam Burish – Andrew Desjardins
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Mirco Mueller – Brent Burns
Matt Irwin – Jason Demers
Antti Niemi (confirmed starter)
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Radim Vrbata
Chris Higgins – Nick Bonino – Alex Burrows
Shawn Mathias – Bred Richardson – Zack Kassian
Derek Dorsett – Linden Vey – Jannik Hansen
Alex Edler – Chris Tanev
Ryan Stanton – Kevin Bieksa
Dan Hamhuis – Yannick Weber
Sharks: Raffi Torres (right knee) and Mike Brown (left hand) are out. Tyler Kennedy (upper body) is questionable.
Canucks: Tom Sestito (leg) is out.
This is the first of five meetings between the Sharks and Canucks, with three of them coming at SAP Center, including the next match on Dec. 30.
Despite being in the same division the Sharks and Canucks have not met since Nov. 14, 2013, as they clubs completed their four-game season series early in the 2013-14 season.
San Jose is 44-43-14 all-time against the Canucks.
“They have a lot of the same players. The Sedins are still there, Bieksa on the back end, Edler. They’re great players. I think last year, they didn’t have the success they wanted, but as an organization and a team, they’re top notch. We know what kind of test it is for us and we’re going to have to bring our best to beat them.” – Tommy Wingels