DUCKS (23-20-7) at SHARKS (33-10-8)
Last 10 -- Anaheim 7-3-0; San Jose 7-2-1
Season series -- This is the fifth meeting between the Pacific Division rivals. San Jose won the previous four games, outscoring the Ducks, 16-6. The teams conclude the season series March 14 in Anaheim. The Sharks defeated the Ducks 4-1 in Anaheim on Opening Night Oct. 3. The Sharks won 3-2 on Nov. 21 when Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Ryan Clowe scored, and 4-1 in San Jose on Dec. 17 on two goals by Thornton. Patrick Marleau got his 300th and 301st career goals in a 5-2 victory in San Jose on Dec. 26.
Big story -- Two of the hottest teams in the NHL will face off at HP Pavilion. Between them, the Ducks and Sharks have one regulation loss in their past 13 games combined. The Pacific Division has an outside chance to put all five teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Sharks lead the Western Conference. Phoenix ranks fifth and Los Angeles is eighth. Dallas and Anaheim are tied for 10th with 53 points, four points behind Los Angeles. Thornton again leads the NHL in assists and seeking his fourth career assist title.
Ducks -- The Ducks are playing their best hockey of the season, winning seven of their past eight games. Six of those victories were against teams currently in playoff positions. The streak includes wins over division leaders Chicago and Buffalo -- Anaheim beat the Sabres 5-4 on Tuesday for its eighth consecutive home win. But the Ducks are in for a severe test; they start a six-game road trip against another division leader -- their own. Rookies Dan Sexton, Matt Beleskey and Troy Bodie have performed very well in the absence of injured team leaders Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu.
Puck drop -- The Ducks' hot streak appears to have restored their confidence.
"We knew from the beginning we had a pretty decent team. We haven't had that good feeling in here, that confidence to go out and win every night," goaltender Jonas Hiller said. "That's what happens right now. We kind of have that good feeling that we know we can pretty much beat any team in this league."
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