Sharks-Hurricanes Preview

The Associated Press

In the midst of a nine-game road stretch, the San Jose Sharks know they can't afford to let any games slip away.

The Pacific Division-leading Sharks look to bounce back from a frustrating defeat when they visit the lowly Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night.

San Jose (31-17-7) opened its longest trip of the season by losing 3-0 to St. Louis on Sunday but followed with a 5-3 win over Washington the next night. The Sharks, however, failed to hold an early third-period lead en route to a 6-5 overtime loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday.

All-Star Logan Couture had a goal with an assist and Antti Niemi made 19 saves as San Jose lost for the fourth time in six games.

"(Tampa Bay) scored four goals on net play, rebounds, picking up the garbage, wraparounds, jams," coach Todd McLellan said. "That's our 'D' men. That's our low forwards. So everybody has some responsibility, but (Niemi) knows he has to be better."

The Sharks would like to play better against Carolina (21-25-11), which has won three of four in the series. San Jose, however, won 5-1 in its last trip to Raleigh on Nov. 1, 2009.

Couture, who has six goals and 10 assists in his last 11 games, had an assist at Carolina two seasons ago. Joe Thornton had two assists in that contest and has 11 with four goals in the last 11 overall.

The Sharks could have their latest addition on the ice for this contest after veteran Dominic Moore was acquired from the Lightning prior to Thursday's game. A gritty center, Moore had four goals and 15 assists in 56 games with Tampa Bay this season.

"Dominic is an extremely versatile player that has performed in a lot of important playoff games the last two years," general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "We feel that he is a great fit in several areas and his veteran presence will benefit our team greatly."

While San Jose eagerly awaits Moore's debut, Carolina will be without leading goal scorer Tuomo Ruutu for at least three weeks due to an unspecified upper body injury suffered during Monday's 5-3 win at Montreal. Ruutu has 17 goals and is tied for second on the team with 30 points.

"With Ruuts out, it's obviously going to hurt us because he's been playing really well, but it's the same old story - we can't make any excuses," coach Kirk Muller told the Hurricanes' official website. "We just have to find another guy that can jump in and fill the spot."

Though the Hurricanes' 53 points are the fewest in the Eastern Conference, they are in the midst of a 3-0-2 stretch. Eric Staal had two goals with an assist as Carolina rallied for three unanswered third-period goals against the Canadiens.

"In the beginning we were losing these types of games by a goal. Now we're finding ways to get a point, two points," Muller said. "Our leaders are really leading this team right now. I really like the way we're playing right now."

Staal, who has four goals with two assists in the last three games, has three goals and two assists in six career contests versus San Jose.

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