Ducks Open Second Half Hosting Sharks At Honda Center

(Sports Network) - The Anaheim Ducks went into the All-Star break on a considerable hot streak and will try to keep heading in a positive direction when they host the rival San Jose Sharks tonight at the Honda Center. The Ducks posted a 10-3-0 record in the 13 games prior to the league's midseason hiatus and Anaheim is currently fifth in the Western Conference with 60 points on the year. Anaheim is just one point behind Nashville and one ahead of Phoenix in the conference standings.

San Jose, meanwhile, has won five of its last six games and is kicking off a seven-game road trip tonight. The Sharks are fourth in the Pacific Division, but are just two points behind second-place Anaheim. Todd McLellan's club is also tied with Chicago for the final two postseason seeds in the West. The Ducks have won two of the three meetings with San Jose this season, but the Sharks still have seven victories in the last 10 encounters between the clubs. Tonight marks the first matchup in Anaheim this year, but San Jose has won five of its last eight in Orange County.

While Anaheim has yet to play since the break, the Sharks were in action last night on home ice and recorded a victory over the Phoenix Coyotes. Patrick Marleau netted the game-winning goal on a short-handed breakaway and San Jose rallied from a three-goal deficit to edge the Coyotes, 5-3, at the Shark Tank. Joe Pavelski scored twice for the Sharks, who are 5-0-1 over their last six games. Kyle Wellwood and Joe Thornton also scored in the victory.

Antti Niemi started between the pipes for San Jose but was pulled after he yielded three goals on 27 shots. Alex Stalock stopped all nine shots he faced in relief to earn the victory in his NHL debut. The Sharks won't play another game on home ice until Feb. 17 against Washington as the club begins its longest trek of the season tonight. San Jose is 13-9-3 on the road this year. San Jose forward Scott Nichol is eligible to return tonight after serving a four-game suspension for a hit on Phoenix defenseman David Schlemko.

Anaheim will aim for a third straight victory tonight after ending a four-game road trip with back-to-back wins last week. The Ducks notched a shootout win in Montreal on Jan. 22 and posted a 3-2 regulation decision in Columbus last Tuesday to close out their pre-All-Star break schedule.

The Ducks recorded a 3-2 win over the Blue Jackets last week, as Jason Blake scored his 200th career NHL goal in his 800th game to lead the way for Anaheim at Nationwide Arena. Saku Koivu and Lubomir Visnovsky both collected two assists for the Ducks, who have won seven of their last nine games. Jonas Hiller made 35 saves to record his league-leading 25th win of the season.

On the injury front, the Ducks are close to getting captain and key forward Ryan Getzlaf back on the ice, but his return won't come tonight. Getzlaf skated with club on Monday for the first time since he was struck in the face by a puck against Phoenix on Dec. 28. He suffered multiple nasal sinus fractures and is expected to wear a visor upon his return.

"It's hard and different for me," Getzlaf told Anaheim's web site about wearing the visor. "But if it means I can get out there earlier, then I'll do it. We'll see how it goes. If I can keep it on and play well, then I'll keep it on." Getzlaf is expected to sit out tonight's tilt as well as Saturday's game in Colorado, but could be ready to return to game action after that. He has 13 goals and 37 points in 40 games this season.

The Ducks are home for just one contest before heading out on four-game road trip. Anaheim has done most of its damage on home ice this year, posting a 17-7-1 record at the Honda Center compared to a 11-13-3 road mark. The Ducks have won four straight and eight of their last nine games as the host.

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