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The Anaheim Ducks haven't been the same since Jean-Sebastien Giguere suffered a groin injury in his last game against the San Jose Sharks.
Giguere will try to help the Ducks (32-13-8) increase their slim Pacific Division lead over the Sharks (34-18-1) when the teams open a home-and-home series at HP Pavilion on Tuesday night.
With 72 points, Anaheim leads San Jose by three for the lead in the Pacific. The clubs play again Wednesday in Anaheim, where the Ducks posted a 5-0 win Nov. 21.
A 4-3 victory over San Jose on Dec. 26 improved Anaheim to 28-6-6. However, Giguere, who had a league-leading 23 wins coming into that contest, suffered a strained groin when his skate apparently got caught near the post on a Sharks goal in the second period.
Giguere blamed the injury on poor ice conditions at HP Pavilion.
"It's just tough to play a game that was, especially in a building like this where the ice is horrendous, where it's humid and hot," said Giguere, who has one win in five starts in San Jose since the end of the NHL lockout. "It's just terrible ice, terrible and humid."
Giguere missed 11 games and Anaheim went 2-7-2. The Ducks also played much of January without defensemen Chris Pronger and Francois Beauchemin.
Pronger was out for nine games with a broken left foot, while Beauchemin suffered a lacerated spleen in the loss to the Sharks and sat out 11 contests.
Both have returned, but the Ducks are still without defenseman Scott Niedermayer, who hasn't played since Jan. 19 and is day-to-day with a stress fracture in his right foot.
Giguere came back Jan. 28 against Dallas and won his first two starts before losing 3-0 to Nashville on Saturday. The Ducks recorded 36 shots on goal, but were shut out for the third time this season.
"The puck wasn't rolling our way," Giguere said. "It didn't seem like we had the energy we usually have. It was a frustrating game."
Right wing Corey Perry has scored in all three games for Anaheim against San Jose this season, recording two goals and two assists. The Ducks lead the series 2-1.
The Sharks bounced back from two straight home losses against Dallas with a 4-2 win over Chicago on Saturday. Vesa Toskala made 20 saves for his 22nd victory and earned two assists in the first period for his first career multipoint game.
"We're better when we're an aggressive, puck-pursuit team like that," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "You have to put together a series of games before you can say you've fixed whatever problems you have, (but) I still don't know how we can go from playing great to awful so quickly."
Toskala is likely to get the start in net again Tuesday. Evgeni Nabokov, who's been splitting time with Toskala this season, left Thursday's loss to Dallas with a groin injury and could miss up to a week. San Jose recalled Nolan Schaefer from Hershey of the AHL on Friday.
San Jose is 1-for-38 with the man advantage over the last seven games, but still leads the league with 64 power-play goals.
Joe Thornton has points in 13 of San Jose's last 14 wins, totaling five goals and 25 assists. He has only one goal and six assists in the Sharks' 10 losses in that span.
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