Vancouver (24-8-5) at San Jose (21-13-5)

Cloudy Currently: San Jose, CA
Temp: 56° F
  • Game info: 10:30 pm EST Mon Jan 3, 2011
  • TV: RSNP, CSCA
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Vancouver Canucks have surged to a share of the Western Conference lead, a spot the San Jose Sharks have held at season’s end the last two years.

The two teams meet at HP Pavilion on Monday trying to extend their solid recent play.

The Canucks (24-8-5) have won five straight overall and have gotten at least one point in their last 12 games (10-0-2) following their 2-1 victory over Colorado on Sunday night. Roberto Luongo(notes) made 31 saves as he improved to 7-0-1 in his last eight starts.

“He’s been outstanding and he’s pulled some games out for us,” said Mason Raymond(notes), who returned from a 10-game absence due to a thumb injury and scored the eventual winning goal. “It’s a club that thinks it’s great playing for a guy like Louie.”

Luongo made 32 saves as Vancouver routed San Jose 6-1 on Nov. 26 in the only previous meeting this season. He is 7-10-1 with one tie lifetime against the Sharks, one of five teams he has not shut out.

Alexandre Bolduc(notes) added his first NHL goal and assisted on Raymond’s tally Sunday as the Sedin twins were held off the scoresheet in the same game for just the fifth time this season.

“It’s nice to see. We’ve got guys chipping in every night, it’s not always the same guys producing,” Luongo said of his goal-scorers. “You need that over the course of an 82-game season. It’s not always going to be the same line.”

The Canucks are trying to sweep a three-game road swing and extend their road point streak to nine games (7-0-1).

San Jose (21-13-5), which failed to reach the Stanley Cup finals despite winning the 2009 Presidents’ Trophy and securing the No. 1 seed in the West last year, capped a three-game road trip with consecutive victories. The Sharks have won six of eight overall.

Antti Niemi(notes), who backstopped the Chicago Blackhawks past the Sharks in last season’s conference finals, made 29 saves for his second shutout as San Jose defeated Los Angeles 1-0 on Saturday. The Sharks felt fortunate to get two points on the road at the expense of a division rival after being limited to 19 shots.

“We haven’t played consistently well all year, at least not through any particularly long stretch,” defenseman Douglas Murray(notes) said. “We still need to find our game. We’re used to getting 35-40 shots, but we’re not getting that right now and that’s not good enough. We haven’t had that much new personnel this year, so we’ve got to get going and playing better than we are.”

Devin Setoguchi(notes) scored the lone goal as the Sharks improved to 4-7-0 when top-line forwards Joe Thornton(notes) and Dany Heatley(notes) fail to record a point. Thornton has 10 goals and 39 points in 31 lifetime games versus Vancouver, while Heatley has four goals and four assists in 12 games.

In the Nov. 26 win for Vancouver, Raffi Torres(notes) and Mikael Samuelsson(notes) scored 1:48 apart in the second period to snap a 1-all tie. Samuelsson added a third-period goal, while Heatley had the lone goal for San Jose.

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Monday, Jan 3