NHL Hockey

Sharks welcome visit from slumping Canucks

A holiday break couldn't have come soon enough for the San Jose Sharks and the Vancouver Canucks.

After a lackluster outing, the Sharks close their longest homestand by looking for another win over the struggling Canucks on Friday night.

San Jose (11-7-4) lost for the second time in three games Tuesday dropping a 4-3 decision in overtime to the Edmonton Oilers. Coach Peter DeBoer noted that the team appeared to take the night off.

"We're scoring some goals, but tonight's a disappointing one because I thought had we got a little bit better effort from everybody, from 20 guys, we should have got two points," he said after the club gave up three leads. "We didn't have enough participants tonight. Didn't play well enough for long enough stretches."

But the Sharks have feasted on the Canucks in recent years. San Jose is 9-0-1 in its last 10 overall against Vancouver, including five consecutive victories at SAP Center.

"This league doesn't allow you to get frustrated for too long," DeBoer said.

The Sharks are one point behind the Calgary Flames for the Pacific Division lead.

Offensively, San Jose is being carried during the homestand by its captain. Joe Pavelski, the reigning NHL Third Star of the Week, has six goals and four assists over the last five games. However, he's posted just seven assists in his last 10 games versus the Canucks.

With a team-high 13 goals, Pavelski -- whose contract is up after the season -- is on pace for career-best 48.

Vancouver (10-12-2) resumes its California road trip looking for answers. With a 4-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday, the Canucks have lost six straight in regulation and seven in a row overall.

"I think that's the most frustrating part is that we're in every single one of those games and we're playing well," said center Bo Horvat, who had a goal and an assist and leads the team with 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists).

One reason for Vancouver's slide is the recent output by budding star Elias Petterson. In his first nine games, the rookie center registered 15 points, including nine goals. But since his five-point effort in a win over the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 2, Petterson has only four points (three goals, assist) in nine games.

The 20-year-old Swede still leads the club with 12 goals.

On defense, Jacob Markstrom has a 3.69 goals-against average and .897 save percentage while losing six straight starts and frustration may be setting in.

"I feel like we shouldn't be this many games (with) consecutive losses, but we're here," he told the Vancouver Sun. "We've got to find a way. We've got to get together as a team and we need to get some points on this road trip. The train is leaving the station pretty soon here, so we need to get going."

Markstrom is 2-4-1 with a 3.74 GAA and .882 save percentage all-time against the Sharks. Backup Anders Nilsson was activated Wednesday after missing 12 games with a broken finger, but he's given up 11 goals on 93 shots while losing each of his last three starts this season.

The Canucks have also surrendered at least one power-play goal in each of their last six games. Vancouver's 20 power-play goals allowed are third-most in the NHL.

With 1,033 career assists, San Jose's Joe Thornton needs one more to move past Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux for 11th on the all-time list.

Updated November 22, 2018

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