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24-13-3

Sharks-Canucks Preview

AP - Sports

The San Jose Sharks closed out 2011 with an overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks - the same way they ended the postseason last year.

The Sharks will try to stop a four-game road losing streak and earn their first victory in three tries this season against the Canucks on Monday night.

San Jose (19-11-4) has not played since a 3-2 overtime loss to Vancouver (24-13-2) on Wednesday. It was the fifth straight regular-season meeting between these teams decided by one goal, with the Canucks winning four.

Vancouver also took two of three one-goal games between the teams in the Western Conference finals last year, capturing the series in five.

"A lot of our games could go either way," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "For whatever reason, they're falling in their side right now and hopefully we'll change that in the second (meeting)."

That contest was the start of a three-game trip for the Canucks, who won 5-2 over Anaheim on Thursday and fell 4-1 at Los Angeles on Saturday. They know that a rested Sharks team awaits them.

"They're always big games against San Jose," defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "They're going to be ready for us. You know, last game was a playoff-type atmosphere, I think."

Sharks coach Todd McLellan agreed with that description of Wednesday's matchup. His club held a 35-30 edge in shots on goal, including 16-4 in a scoreless third period before Andrew Ebbett scored in overtime.

"I thought it was a heckuva game," McLellan said. "I thought it had a lot of emotion in it, more emotion that any of the other games we've played lately between both teams, on our bench, officiating, the whole nine yards. So playoff-style, playoff atmosphere, and I don't expect anything different from the two teams."

The Sharks are returning to Vancouver for the first time since losing all three postseason games at Rogers Arena last year. Bieksa scored the winner in the second overtime of a 3-2 win in Game 5 at home.

It's a feeling the Sharks have grown accustomed to against the Canucks.

"For the most part, it's one-goal nights," McLellan said. "The unfortunate thing is we're short that one goal more often that not."

The Sharks also fell 3-2 at home to the Canucks on Nov. 26. No San Jose skater has registered more than one point in the first two 2011-12 matchups, while the Sedin brothers have totaled three points for Vancouver.

Although the Canucks lead the NHL with a 24.2 percentage on the power play, they came up empty on four chances Saturday. Bieksa had the lone goal with assists from both Sedins.

"We weren't good enough,'' Henrik Sedin said. "We got our chance on the power play, but we weren't sharp enough and didn't create enough chances to score."

Roberto Luongo made his seventh straight start, falling to 5-2-0 with a 2.27 goals-against average after making 29 saves. He bested Antti Niemi on Wednesday with a 33-save performance.

Niemi is 2-5-2 with a 3.19 GAA against the Canucks.

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