Wednesday, April 24, 2024

NHL Preview: San Jose Sharks (14-32-4) at Anaheim Ducks (18-30-2)

SAN JOSE SHARKS NOTES:

THE SHAK ATTACK

Shakir Mukhamadullin made his NHL debut on Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres. He logged three shots on goal, one hit, one takeaway, and two blocked shots in 19:21 time on ice. In 39 games with the Barracuda this year (AHL), he led all ‘Cuda defensemen in assists (21) and among AHL defensemen he ranked tied for 10th in points with 26 (5 goals, 21 assists) before his call-up. Mukhamadullin was the second defensemen to make his NHL debut with the Sharks this season, joining Ty Emberson on Oct. 21 at Nashville. Mukhamadullin, 22, was acquired alongside F Fabian Zetterlund, D Nikita Okhotiuk, a 2023 first-round pick (F Quentin Musty), a conditional 2024 first-round pick and F Andreas Johnsson in the midseason 2023 trade that sent forward Timo Meier to New Jersey. He is the fourth player from that trade to go on to skate with the Sharks thus far.

RETURN OF THE CAP

Logan Couture made his long-awaited season debut on Jan. 20 against Anaheim. He logged an assist on the Sharks’ first goal of the game and finished the contest with 15:49 time on ice. The Sharks captain, who now has 31 points (10g, 21a) in his past 37 games played entering Jan. 31 at Anaheim, registered 20:50 TOI in his second game back in the lineup, making his impact with the game-deciding goal in the shootout victory. Couture, who missed the first 45 games of the season due to a lower body injury, had not competed in game action since April 13, 2023. In 932 career games, Couture has posted 701 points (323 goals, 378 assists), most recently leading San Jose forwards with 67 points (27g, 40a) last season. The three-time NHL All-Star Game selection appeared in all 82 games last season and became the third player in Sharks history with 10 or more 20-goal seasons with his 27-marker effort in the 22-23 campaign.

HERT SO GOOD

Forward Tomáš Hertl, the Sharks’ representative at the 2024 Honda NHL All-Star Game – his second career All-Star Game appearance – was the first San Jose skater to reach 30 points on the year, tying Brent Burns with nine 30-point seasons in teal, fifth-most in team history. He entered 2024 following the best goal-scoring month of his career, his nine lamp-lighters besting his previous high of eight, which he previously hit four times (in 13 games in October 2013, 15 games in December 2018, 11 games in January 2019 and 10 games in December 2021). He earned NHL Second Star of the Week honors on Dec. 11 after posting six points (5g, 1a) in three games from Dec. 3-10, helping the Sharks to a 2-1-1 record in concluding a six-game road trip. Hertl paces the club in points (34) and goals (15) and is atop the roster with nine multi-point games on the campaign. His run of three goals on Dec. 5 followed by two on Dec. 7 represented just the second time in his career that he recorded consecutive multi-goal outings, last scoring six goals over two games in his second and third career contests. Hertl has 22 points (11g, 11a) in the past 30 games entering Jan. 31 at Anaheim, dating back to consecutive two-assist efforts (Nov. 24 and 25), when he passed Owen Nolan for sixth on the Sharks’ all-time multi-point games list (110). Earlier this season he also passed Nolan (206) for sole possession of fifth on the Sharks’ all-time goals list and for sixth (Nolan – 451) on the team’s all-time points list. He is one game-winning goal shy from tying Jonathan Cheechoo (36) for fifth on the team’s alltime GWG list. Hertl became the seventh player to appear in 700 games as a Shark when he laced up on Dec. 31 at Colorado, joining Patrick Marleau (1,607), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (1,257), Joe Thornton (1,104), Joe Pavelski (963), Logan Couture (927) and Brent Burns (798).

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

The Sharks are 12-9-2 this season when three out of the four centers on the planned depth chart (Logan Couture, Tomáš Hertl, Mikael Granlund, Nico Sturm) are in the lineup. San Jose has yet to play a game this season with all four in the lineup. Couture’s impact has been felt since his return, logging his first assist of the season in his first game back (Jan. 20 vs. ANA) and posting the game-deciding goal in a shootout in the following game against the Los Angeles Kings (Jan. 22). The Sharks’ centermen lead the team in numerous categories, Hertl in scoring with 15 goals, Granlund in assists with 24 and Sturm in faceoff win percentage with 61.2% (min. 100 faceoffs).

YOU ZETTER BELIEVE IT

Forward Fabian Zetterlund is enjoying a career year on the offensive end, adding goals in back-to-back contests Jan. 20 and 22 to push his total to a careerbest 14, ranks second behind Tomáš Hertl. He currently sits just two points shy of his career high of 23, set in 67 games last season. Zetterlund joined Hertl as the lone Sharks to reach double-digit goal totals on the year with his 10th of the campaign, coming Dec. 27. The Swedish forward found the back of the net in consecutive contests (Dec. 23 and 27) and has tallied five points in his last 11 games (3g, 2a) entering Jan. 31 at Anaheim, including a mult-point effort (1g, 1a) on Jan 20. against Anaheim.

GOOD KAAP

Goaltender Kaapo Kähkönen closed out 2023 on a high note, posting a .914 Save Percentage and 2.96 Goals Against Average in nine December appearances, going 3-4-1 in the calendar month. In his most recent outing, the Finnish netminder posted his third 40-save effort of the season, helping the Sharks earn a road win at Los Angeles (Jan. 22). Since the team’s first win of the season on Nov. 7, Kähkönen has taken over the Sharks lead in SVP (.901), including three 44-save performances (Nov. 16 vs. STL, Dec. 1 at NJD and Jan. 22 at LAK), and 10 games with save percentages of .909 or better. On home ice in that span, Kähkönen has gone 2-3-0 in six appearances with a 2.85 GAA and .920

SVP. DEFENSE TO OFFENSE

Three of the Sharks defensemen – Marc-Édouard Vlasic, Kyle Burroughs and Jan Rutta, found the back of the net in the 5-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Jan 20. It was the eighth time in Sharks history that three defensemen scored in the same game and the first since Dec. 23, 2013 (B. Burns, J. Demers, M. Irwin). Burroughs’ and Rutta’s strikes were their first with the Sharks, with Rutta’s going down as the game-winning goal, the second of his career and first since Jan. 12, 2018. Vlasic has netted his first four goals of the season in his last eight games played (4g, 0a) entering Jan. 31 at Anaheim and leads Sharks defensemen in goals in the month of January. Vlasic logged his first game-winning goal of his campaign in the 2-0 victory over Seattle yesterday, passing Dan Boyle (13) for sole possession of second on the franchise’s all-time game-winning goals list for defensemen. Rutta enters the contest against Anaheim with a career-long five-game point streak (3g, 3a) and  Mario Ferraro leads Sharks defensemen in points this campaign with 14 (1g, 13a)

ANAHEIM DUCKS NOTES:

RECENT ANAHEIM TRANSACTIONS

DATE TRANSACTION

Jan. 29, 2024 Reassigned D Robert Hagg to San Diego (AHL)

INJURIES

PLAYER INJURY / ILLNESS EXPECTED TIME MISSED GAMES MISSED

Ilya Lyubushkin Upper-body Day-to-day 2

Alex Killorn Knee surgery 4-6 weeks 5

Pavel Mintyukov Separated shoulder 6 weeks 9

Trevor Zegras Broken ankle 6-8 weeks 9

Max Jones Upper-body Week-to-week 11

2023-24 Man Games Lost: 184

TONIGHT’S GAME: The Anaheim Ducks conclude their January schedule tonight when they host the San Jose Sharks at Honda Center (7 p.m. PT, Bally Sports SoCal/San Diego, AUDIO: Ducks Stream). Anaheim enters tonight’s game with points in three straight games (2-0-1) and a 3-3-1 mark the last seven contests. The Ducks conclude their 14-game January schedule (4-7-2), which includes six home and eight road contests. Following tonight’s game, the Ducks will enter the NHL’s All-Star Break before returning to action Friday, Feb. 9 vs. the Edmonton Oilers at Honda Center (7 p.m.).

DUCKS-SHARKS: Anaheim and San Jose continue their four-game season series tonight at Honda Center, the final of two meetings in Orange County. The Ducks have earned standing points in 10 of their last 14 games against San Jose in Anaheim (7-4-3). Anaheim owns a 76-69-12 all-time record vs. the Sharks, including a 38-34-9 mark in Orange County. In the first meeting of 2023-24, Anaheim earned a 4-1 win in Orange County with multi-point efforts from Frank Vatrano (2-1=3) and Ryan Strome (0-2=2) with additional goals from Radko Gudas and Mason McTavish. In their second meeting, the Ducks fell 5-3 to the Sharks in San Jose with multi-point efforts from Adam Henrique (1-1=2) and Troy Terry (0-2=2) and goals from McTavish and Jackson LaCombe. Henrique (13-14=27 in 35 GP) leads active Ducks skaters in career scoring and goals vs. the Sharks while Cam Fowler (4-19=23 in 59 GP) paces the club in career assists. The two teams close out the season series Feb. 29 at SAP Center (7:30 p.m.).

HATS OFF: Anaheim co-leads the NHL with five hat tricks this season (also TOR) in addition to the most individual players to record a hat trick. The Ducks’ five hat tricks are the most by a team through 30 games in a season since Pittsburgh in 2018-19 (also 5), with Philadelphia (6) the last to record more through 30 games (1994-95). Anaheim’s hat tricks include Adam Henrique (3-0=3 Dec. 17 @ NJD), Leo Carlsson (3-0=3 Nov. 10 vs. PHI), Troy Terry (3-1=4 Nov. 1 @ ARI) and Frank Vatrano (3-0=3 Oct. 26 @ PHI and 3-0=3 Oct. 15 vs. CAR). The five hat tricks trails only the single-season club record of seven in 2010-11. The Ducks’ three hat tricks the first 10 games this season were tied for the second-most the last 40 years (NYI recorded four in 1983-84). Only Anaheim and Edmonton (2022- 23) scored three hat tricks the first 10 games of a season since 1988-99 (PIT).

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