Sharks seek to findl scoring touch

San Jose (44-13-10) at Anaheim (32-30-6), 8:00 p.m. EDT

ANAHEIM, California (Ticker) — The San Jose Sharks got a lift
from the return of goaltender Evgeni Nabokov in their last game,
but their struggles scoring continued.

The Sharks hope a meeting with a Pacific Division rival can
spark their anemic offense when they visit the Anaheim Ducks on
Sunday night.

San Jose (44-13-10) is one point behind Detroit for first place
in the Western Conference, and hoping the return of its No. 1
goaltender will help capture the top spot.

Nabokov, who had missed seven games with an upper-body injury,
returned Saturday night and helped lead his team to a 2-1
shootout win at home over the Los Angeles Kings. The Sharks had
allowed 21 goals en route to a 1-4-1 record in their previous
six contests.

Milan Michalek scored in regulation while Joe Pavelski and
Jonathan Cheechoo each scored in the shootout, with Cheechoo’s
game-winner coming in the seventh round. Nabokov recorded 23
saves in regulation and overtime for his first win since
February 23.

“He played great,” Sharks defender Dan Boyle said. “He came
through in the shootout and he’s the reason we won the two

While Nabokov provides a defensive lift, the Sharks have yet to
solve their recent offensive struggles. San Jose has averaged
1.9 goals since February 23, and went scoreless in eight
power-play opportunities Saturday.

Joe Thornton failed to record a point for the second straight
game. The Sharks’ leading scorer with 74 points hasn’t gone more
than three consecutive games without a point this season.

He isn’t the only one struggling. Devin Setoguchi and Ryan Clowe
– who have combined for 47 goals and 58 assists this season –
have one goal and three assists between them in the last nine

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The home team has won all three meetings in this season series,
two of which were played in San Jose. Nabokov started all three,
and made 31 saves for the shutout in the last matchup – a 2-0
Sharks win December 11.

Anaheim snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-3 overtime
victory at home over Vancouver on Wednesday. Scott Niedermayer
scored 3:37 into the extra period after the Ducks failed to
protect a two-goal lead in the second period and a 3-2 edge
going into the third.

The Ducks (32-30-6), who will be playing the fourth contest of a
five-game homestand, are tied with St. Louis for 11th place in
the West – three points behind Edmonton and Nashville for the
final playoff spot.

“We needed it,” Niedermayer told the Ducks’ official Web site
after Wednesday’s win. “We’re not where we want to be and this
is a big extra point. We have a long way to go and we’ll take
the two points. It’s nice to get back on the winning way at

Jonas Hiller made 32 saves Wednesday in his second straight
start. The backup’s increased playing time comes as No. 1 goalie
Jean-Sebastien Giguere has lost three of his last four starts
while compiling a 3.53 GAA.

Giguere, though, recorded a shutout against the Sharks on
October 17, stopping 38 shots to improve to 8-1-1 with a 1.76
GAA in his last 10 starts versus San Jose.