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GAME: Anaheim Mighty Ducks (42-26-12) at San Jose Sharks (43-26-11).
TIME: Saturday, 4:30 p.m. EDT.
The San Jose Sharks are storming into the playoffs and look to clinch the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference while setting a franchise record with their eighth straight win as they host the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
The fifth-place Sharks have 97 points and lead the Ducks by one point in the West, while seventh-place Colorado trails Anaheim by two points. All three teams have two games remaining, and San Jose could clinch the No. 5 seed and a first-round meeting with the Nashville Predators with a win over the Mighty Ducks.
"It will be a playoff atmosphere," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said.
"I've seen things in past years," Wilson said. "If the top teams lose, you could have home ice. Maybe you won't have home ice (at all in the West), but you could face an Eastern team in the finals and get home ice."
San Jose defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-3 on Thursday, tying a franchise record with its seventh straight victory.
Jonathan Cheechoo scored two goals, giving him 53 on the season, one behind New York Rangers right wing Jaromir Jagr for the NHL lead. Cheechoo has seven goals in his last five games, and two of his four hat tricks this season have come against Anaheim.
Joe Thornton had three assists against the Canucks, and is tied with Jagr for the NHL lead with 122 points. Thornton has three goals and 13 assists during a seven-game points streak.
Rookie Matt Carle, who won the Hobey Baker award as the NCAA's top player last week, scored the go-ahead goal and added an assist Thursday.
"It's been a fun ride so far," said Carle, who has three goals and three assists in his first 10 NHL games.
Goaltender Vesa Toskala has won 13 of his last 16 games, and is 6-0 with a 1.65 goals-against average and one shutout during the Sharks' current win streak. Toskala, though, has not faced Anaheim this season, as demoted No. 1 goalie Evgeni Nabokov is 2-3-1 with a 3.20 GAA against the Ducks this year.
Anaheim lost to Edmonton 2-1 on Thursday, and has scored just one goal in losing consecutive games. The Ducks have lost four of their last six road games, but have won their last two at San Jose.
"We are playing for positioning" Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said.
Andy McDonald scored Anaheim's lone goal Thursday, and has four goals and two assists in his last four games against San Jose.
Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere has won five of his last seven games, and is 3-1-1 with a 2.71 GAA and shutout this season against the Sharks.
STANDINGS: Mighty Ducks - 96 points, 3rd place, 13 PB, Pacific Division. Sharks - 97 points, 2nd place, 12 PB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Mighty Ducks - Teemu Selanne, 39 goals, 50 assists and 89 points; Todd Fedoruk, 174 PIM. Sharks - Cheechoo, 53 goals; Thornton, 94 assists and 122 points; Mark Smith, 97 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Mighty Ducks - Power play: 18.0 percent (83 for 460), 16th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.8 percent (415 for 495), 11th (tied). Sharks - Power play: 18.0 percent (83 for 488), 16th (tied). Penalty killing: 80.9 percent (313 for 387), 21st (tied).
GOALTENDERS: Mighty Ducks - Giguere (29-14-11, 2 SO, 2.60 GAA); Ilya Bryzgalov (13-12-1, 1, 2.54). Sharks - Toskala (22-7-4, 2, 2.55); Nabokov (16-18-7, 1, 3.08).
SEASON SERIES: Mighty Ducks, 4-2-1.
LAST MEETING: March 7; Ducks, 5-4 (OT). At Anaheim, Calif., after the Ducks Sandis Ozolinsh's shot deflected to Sharks center Patrick Marleau, Anaheim center Samuel Pahlsson hit Marleau's stick, and the puck rolled into the net for the game-winning goal.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mighty Ducks - 17-16-7 on the road; Sharks - 24-8-7 at home.
|Apr 15 '06||ANA 3 at SJS 6||J. Cheechoo|
|Mar 07 '06||SJS 4 at ANA 5 - OT||S. Ozolinsh|
|Feb 04 '06||ANA 2 at SJS 0||T. Fedoruk|
|Feb 01 '06||SJS 6 at ANA 4||J. Cheechoo|
|Jan 26 '06||ANA 2 at SJS 0||A. McDonald|
|Dec 20 '05||ANA 2 at SJS 4||J. Cheechoo|
|Dec 18 '05||SJS 4 at ANA 5||R. Niedermayer|
|Nov 04 '05||SJS 1 at ANA 0 - OT||M. Goc|
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