Ducks Battle Sharks, Looking To Snap San Jose Road Skid

(Sports Network) - It took a game without one of their top point producers for the Sharks to break a lengthy scoring drought. San Jose wouldn't mind a bit more of that irony tonight when it goes for a fifth straight home win over the Anaheim Ducks at HP Pavilion.

The Sharks have lost three times in their last eight games and failed to score a goal in all three losses. They were shut out in back-to-back losses to Minnesota and St. Louis prior to Saturday's home game versus Tampa Bay and were without center Joe Thornton because of a two-game suspension stemming from a hit to the head versus the Blues on Thursday.

San Jose prevailed despite missing its captain as Patrick Marleau scored twice in a 5-2 victory. His short-handed marker at 12:16 of the first period halted the Sharks' goal-scoring drought at 156 minutes and 59 seconds.

Dany Heatley and Logan Couture also scored and both added an assist for the Sharks, who won the opener of a five-game homestand.

Couture was elevated to the top line in place of Thornton, who is tied with Heatley for the club lead in points with 15 and will also sit out tonight's game. Couture, the ninth overall pick of the 2007 draft, scored his fifth goal of the season after notching five in 25 games a season ago.

"His confidence in his ability is the key," Marleau told San Jose's website of Couture. "He's played well so he's gained more confidence. He knows what it takes to win games and what the coaches want out of him."

Antero Niittymaki made 33 saves in Saturday's win. He is 1-0-1 with a 1.44 goals-against average versus the Ducks, picking up that win on Oct. 30 in a 5-2 home win. Niittymaki stopped 22-of-24 shots faced and Heatley scored twice to go along with an assist.

That win by the Sharks was their seventh in their last eight meetings with the division-rival Ducks. San Jose has also won nine of 11 overall versus Anaheim as well as four straight and seven of the last eight at home in the series.

The Ducks do carry some momentum into this game as they wrapped up a three- game homestand perfect following their loss in San Jose and this current win streak marks the first time this year the club has won back-to-back games.

Anaheim appeared headed for overtime on Sunday versus Nashville, but defenseman Paul Mara chipped in a Bobby Ryan pass with just 1.7 seconds left on the clock in the third period for a thrilling 5-4 win.

The goal was the latest game-winning regulation tally in club history and latest since Shaun Van Allen scored with five seconds left on the clock in a victory over Calgary on April 24, 1995.

Mara's heroics also came after the Ducks blew four one-goal leads. Jonas Hiller made 20 saves.

"It was an ugly game, certainly not one we want to put in the archives," said Ryan. "We have to do a better job in front of Hillsy and a better job managing the puck through the neutral zone. It's something we'll focus on."

Saku Koivu scored two goals to become the fourth Finnish-born player in league history to reach 700 points. One of those he joins is teammate Teemu Selanne, who had a goal and an assist versus the Predators.

Hiller is 2-8-0 with a 2.44 GAA in his career versus the Sharks and was given the night off in the previous meeting.

For more Anaheim Ducks news and information, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Anaheim Calling.

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