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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, March 20th (All times Eastern)

Anaheim Ducks (45-17-7) at San Jose Sharks (45-18-7), 10:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - A crucial battle for Pacific Division supremacy is on tap at SAP Center, as the Sharks welcome the rival Anaheim Ducks for Thursday's showdown in Silicon Valley.

The Ducks and Sharks enter this clash with 97 points apiece, giving them a 15- point lead over Los Angeles in the two-team race for the division title. San Jose has taken two of three meetings so far in 2013-14, but the clubs haven't met since Anaheim recorded a 6-3 home triumph on Dec. 31.

That New Years' Eve victory ended a four-game series losing streak for the Ducks, who received 33 saves from Jonas Hiller and a goal and two assists from captain Ryan Getzlaf.

San Jose, however, has won the last four encounters at the Shark Tank, where the club boasts a 25-5-4 record this season.

Perhaps guilty of looking ahead to Thursday's pivotal contest, both Anaheim and San Jose are coming off losses in their last game.

The Sharks lost 3-2 in regulation against visiting Florida on Tuesday despite firing 54 shots at Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo. San Jose entered the game having won six straight, including the previous three on the road, before being done in by Luongo's 52-save performance in the opener of a three-game homestand.

San Jose went 1-for-6 on the power play in the loss and failed to score with the man advantage in the third period, when Florida committed four penalties. The Sharks even had 51 seconds of a 5-on-3 in third, but couldn't cash in against Luongo.

"Our power play really had a chance to do something there in the third period and we just couldn't capitalize," said San Jose captain Joe Thornton. "Luongo is a world-class goalie and he made some really big stops there."

Marty Havlat scored a power-play goal in the first for San Jose, while Brent Burns notched an even-strength marker in the third. Antti Niemi gave up all three Florida goals on 24 shots.

The Ducks had won two straight before losing Tuesday's home tilt against the Washington Capitals. Alex Ovechkin netted the game-winner on the power play 2:44 into the third period to lift the visiting Caps to a 3-2 decision.

Anaheim's Mathieu Perreault potted a power-play goal to tie the tilt at 1:32 of the third, but Ducks forward Matt Beleskey went off for slashing at 2:36 and Ovechkin buried a one-timer from the low left circle just eight seconds into the ensuing man-advantage to put Washington on top for good.

Ben Lovejoy tallied Anaheim's other goal, while Hiller allowed three goals on 30 shots for the Ducks, who lost for the fifth time in seven games.

Beginning with Thursday's important test in San Jose, Anaheim is playing four of its next five games on the road. The Ducks are 21-10-3 as the guest this season and have won two straight away from Orange County.

Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler expects to miss a third straight game Thursday due to a leg issue, while forward Nick Bonino is questionable after sustaining a lower-body injury in Tuesday's contest.

Hiller expects to start in net for Anaheim and is 8-10-2 with a 2.32 goals against average and .928 save percentage in his career against the Sharks. Niemi, the likely starter for San Jose, is 9-8-0 with a 2.53 GAA and .907 save percentage in 17 lifetime tilts versus the Ducks.

03/20 10:54:59 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
DUKE 47
TULA 13
Final
ECU 70
UNC 41
 
Final
TOWSN 31
NCCU 20
 
Final
NCSU 42
PRES 0
 
Final
KAN 2
DET 3
Final
CHC 8
LOS 7
Final
OAK 0
PHI 3
Final
NYY 3
TOR 6
Final
COL 5
ARI 1
Final
BAL 7
BOS 2
 
8th
PIT 0
MIL 0
 
9th
TAM 3
CWS 1
 
6th
MIN 2
CLE 7
 
Final
ATL 2
NYM 4
 
Final
HOU 10
SEA 1
9th
MIA 2
WAS 3
 
9th
STL 8
CIN 4
 
5th
SDP 1
SFG 0
 
4th
ANA 3
TEX 0
 
Final
WISC 68
BGU 17
Final
MSU 73
EMICH 14
Final
VT 24
GT 27
Final
PITT 20
IOWA 24
Final
RICE 42
ODU 45
Final
UGA 66
TROY 0
Final
SYR 20
MD 34
Final
DUKE 47
TULA 13
Final
COL 21
HAW 12
Final
AKR 17
MARS 48
Final
WAKE 24
ARMY 21
Final
KU 24
CMICH 10
Final
ALA 42
UF 21
Final
FIU 3
LOU 34
Final
ECU 70
UNC 41
 
Final
NAVY 24
RUTG 31
Final
SMU 6
TEXAM 58
Final
MICH 10
UTAH 26
Final
BYU 41
UVA 33
Final
WYO 20
FATL 19
Final
MIZZ 27
IND 31
Final
PSU 48
UMASS 7
Final
MINN 24
SJST 7
Final
ILL 42
TXST 35
 
Final
WASH 45
GASTATE 14
 
4th
SMISS 14
APPST 7
 
1st
TOL 6
BST 0
 
4th
OHIO 29
IDAHO 17
 
4th
CIN 31
UMO 24
 
4th
MEM 36
MTST 10
 
4th
LSU 16
MSST 34
 
4th
ARK 52
NILL 14
 
4th
ARKST 7
UTST 14
 
4th
SALABAMA 6
GASO 21
 
3rd
WVU 24
OKLA 31
 
3rd
VANDY 21
SCAR 27
 
3rd
NEB 24
MIAMI 14
 
3rd
NMST 14
NMU 21
 
3rd
HOU 20
UNLV 7
 
Half
FSU 3
CLEM 10
 
10:00pm Tonight
ARZ
CAL
10:30pm Tonight
BSU
LALAF
10:30pm Tonight
WASU
OREG
10:30pm Tonight
ORST
SDST
Final
TOWSN 31
NCCU 20
 
Final
NCSU 42
PRES 0