The surging San Jose Sharks clinched their seventh consecutive postseason berth their last time out. After an impressive month, its looking as if the Anaheim Ducks will be joining them in the playoffs.
Seeking their seventh win in eight games, the Sharks host the Ducks on Saturday night in a preview of a possible first-round playoff matchup.
San Jose (45-23-9) moved into second in the Western Conference after routing Dallas 6-0 on Thursday.
As of Jan. 13, the Sharks were tied for 10th in the West, and looked like anything but a playoff-caliber club. However, they’ve gone on to win 24 of 32 and can inch closer to a fourth straight Pacific Division title Saturday.
“We had to fight for it a little bit more from the bottom of the standings,” said left wing Patrick Marleau(notes), who scored twice against the Stars, and has eight goals and six assists in the last eight games. “We took a different road this time compared to the last few seasons, but I think it will make us stronger.”
With 99 points, San Jose is one ahead of third-place Detroit and six in front of seventh-place Anaheim (44-28-5).
The Ducks have used a 12-3-0 stretch to move into playoff contention, and while eighth-place Chicago remains close, they have a comfortable lead over Calgary and Dallas.
Anaheim beat the Flames 4-2 on the road Wednesday for its 11th win in March, tying a franchise record for victories in a month.
“That was huge. They’ve only got a handful games left and it puts us up,” said forward Corey Perry(notes), who scored his NHL-leading 45th and 46th goals and added an assist. “We’re putting teams behind us now and we’re pushing forward and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Perry has tallied 15 goals with six assists over his last 11 games, and is just the fifth player to record that many goals in a month since January 1997.
Ray Emery(notes), signed in early February, made 23 saves and improved to 6-0-0 with a 1.90 goals-against average since making his Anaheim debut March 13. He allowed six goals in his only career start against San Jose while with Philadelphia on Nov. 20, 2009.
Niemi, 2-2-0 with a 2.01 GAA lifetime versus Anaheim, has received plenty of help from the power-play unit.
The Sharks, whose 23.4 power-play percentage ranks among the best in the league, have converted 11 of 34 (32.4 percent) opportunities on the man advantage in their last 11 games.
Joe Thornton(notes) had two assists to extend his point streak to a season-high-tying five games, and is three points away from reaching 1,000 for his career. The Sharks’ captain had three assists in a 5-2 home win over the Ducks on Oct. 30.
San Jose had taken seven of eight from Anaheim at home before losing 3-2 in overtime Nov. 9.