Programming note: Sharks-Ducks coverage gets underway at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live, only on Comcast SportsNet California
Where they stand
Sharks: 24-8-6, 54 points, 2nd Pacific Division, 4th Western Conference
Ducks: 28-7-5, 61 points, 1st Pacific Division, 1st Western Conference
Goals per game: 3.13 (4th)
Goals-against per game: 2.42 (10th)
Power play: 18.7 percent (13th)
Penalty kill: 82.2 percent (14th)
Goals per game: 3.20 (3rd)
Goals-against per game: 2.40 (T - 8th)
Power play: 14.6 percent (26th)
Penalty kill: 81.1 percent (19th)
Joe Pavelski – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Matt Nieto
James Sheppard – Bracken Kearns – Tommy Wingels
Tyler Kennedy – Andrew Desjardins – Mike Brown
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Jason Demers
Matt Irwin – Dan Boyle
Brad Stuart – Justin Braun
Dustin Penner – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey – Mathieu Perreault – Jakob Silfverberg
Daniel Winnik – Saku Koivu – Andrew Cogliano
Patrick Maroon – Nick Bonino – Kyle Palmieri
Francois Beauchemin – Hampus Lindholm
Cam Fowler – Ben Lovejoy
Sami Vatanen – Bryan Allen
Sharks: The Sharks won their third straight game, all in the shootout, 4-3 on Friday in Phoenix. Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns each had a goal and an assist, and Patrick Marleau scored on the power play. Joe Thornton added to his league-leading assist total with a pair of helpers and Antti Niemi made 34 saves for his 20th win. Sunday is the first of two straight games against Anaheim, as the clubs meet again on New Year’s Eve at Honda Center.
Ducks: Anaheim also beat the Coyotes in its previous game, on Saturday at home in overtime, 3-2. The Ducks have won a franchise-record 10 in a row, and are 14-0-2 on home ice. Saku Koivu had the overtime marker, and added a shorthanded goal in regulation. Jonas Hiller made 23 saves for his eighth win in a row in net. The Ducks are 11-0-2 in their last 13 games.
Keep an eye on…
Sharks: Matt Nieto. The rookie winger looks like he’ll get a chance on the Logan Couture-Patrick Marleau line, and he’ll be looking to end a 13-game scoreless drought. Nieto had a brief stint in the minors recently, but could be back for good now that Tomas Hertl is out long-term. He hasn’t done a whole lot since his first month in the NHL, but maybe playing with two of the club’s most skilled players will jump-start his game.
Ducks: Hampus Lindholm. The rookie defenseman is playing on the Ducks’ top defense pair with Francois Beauchemin, and in 37 games, the 19-year-old has three goals and 10 assists. Lindholm, who was drafted sixth overall in the 2012 draft, has one goal, three assists and an impressive +10 rating in his last seven games. His +21 on the season is tied for the NHL lead.
Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee), Marty Havlat (lower body), Raffi Torres (right ACL surgery), and Adam Burish (back surgery) are out.
Ducks: Sheldon Souray (right wrist), Luca Sbisa (right hand) and Viktor Fasth (muscle inflammation) are out.
The Sharks won the first meeting of the season series, at home on Nov. 30, 4-3 in a shootout. After the meeting on Dec. 31, the Sharks host the Ducks again on March 20 and visit Anaheim on April 9.
All-time, the Sharks are 58-45-4-7 against the Ducks.
“First good practice post-Christmas, we wanted to look at some different people in different spots. I said it before, until we find four comfortable lines, we’re going to keep moving it around.” – Todd McLellan, after the Sharks practice on Saturday
How would you evaluate Matt Nieto’s season so far? Leave your answer in the comments section below.