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DUCKS (13-13-7) at SHARKS (19-8-7)
Last 10 -- Anaheim 4-2-4; San Jose 4-3-3
Season series -- The teams are meeting for the third time this season, but the first at HP Pavilion. San Jose won both of its trips to Anaheim, beating the Ducks 4-1 on Oct. 3 and 3-2 on Nov. 21. The Ducks are back at the Tank on Dec. 26.
Big story -- Anaheim enters the game after beating the Canucks 3-2 last night for its second straight road win. The Ducks, back at the .500 mark for the first time since Oct. 17, have points in their last six and 10 of their last 12 contests.
San Jose has had four days off following Saturday night's 2-1 loss at Phoenix, the Sharks' fifth consecutive loss (0-2-3), and they have the weekend off before a road game at Dallas on Monday. Coach Todd McLellan is trying to get his team back on the right track after its worst slide in a couple of years. The losing streak has dropped San Jose behind Los Angeles in the Pacific Division and overall standings.
Ducks -- Nothing demonstrates the Western Conference's domination of the East more than the fact that Anaheim is 13-13-7 but still tied for last among the 15 teams despite Wednesday's 3-2 win at Vancouver.
One reason Anaheim's improvement has been the development of a second line -- Saku Koivu, rookie Dan Sexton and Bobby Ryan. Ryan and Koivu both scored against the Canucks, with Koivu getting the winning goal (his second in four games), and Sexton adding two assists.
Sharks -- The Sharks, who blitzed the Western Conference last season, are finding out that parity is here.
Who's hot -- Ryan is 2-4-6 in his last four games, Koivu is 3-4-7 in that span with a pair of game-winners and Sexton is 4-3-7 in his last four. … San Jose's Dany Heatley has goals in his last two games. The combination of Heatley (21) and Patrick Marleau (20) has more goals than any two teammates in the NHL.
Injury report -- Ducks center Ryan Carter (foot) is expected to return later this month, while right wing Teemu Selanne may not return until January due to a broken hand. Forward Joffrey Lupul, who has 10 goals in 23 games, is scheduled to undergo back surgery Thursday to repair a herniated disc. He's expected to miss 6-8 weeks… Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle, who sustained a lower-body injury on Saturday, has used the time off to rest and expects to play.
Stat pack -- Wednesday's win marked the first time in eight games that the Ducks won when they were tied after one period. They're now 1-2-5. Anaheim was 3-3-4 in back-to-back games before Wednesday, including 1-2-2 in the second game.
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