Sharks-Hurricanes Preview

The Associated Press

The San Jose Sharks are trying to get untracked, and they look more like one of the best teams in the NHL.

Jeff Skinner and the Carolina Hurricanes are just looking for a third straight win.

The visiting Sharks attempt to rebound from one of their most lopsided defeats of the season Friday night against the Hurricanes.

San Jose (19-4-5) is atop the Pacific Division and only one point behind NHL-leading Chicago.

The Sharks didn't look much like one of the league's top teams Thursday, giving up four goals in a row in the opening 7:30 of the second period on the way to a 5-1 loss at Pittsburgh. They had won six straight games, while outscoring opponents 24-12.

"It was more our mistakes than what they did right," center Logan Couture said. "We weren't ourselves. We weren't moving pucks. We were turning it over. In the neutral zone we weren't good. I think it was more us than them."

Despite the subpar performance against the Penguins, Joe Thornton extended his point streak with an assist on rookie Tomas Hertl's team-leading 14th goal.

Thornton has nine points over his last seven games, and adding at least one at Carolina would give him his longest point streak since a 10-game run from Nov. 14-Dec. 3, 2009.

The captain has nine points over his last seven visits to Raleigh, but he was held off the score sheet in a 3-2 loss in the most recent matchup Feb. 17, 2012.

San Jose has dropped four of its last five road meetings with the Hurricanes (12-12-5), and those struggles may continue if they can't find a way to slow down Skinner.

The left wing and 2011 Calder Trophy winner has 17 points in 18 games on the season, getting five goals and one assist in the past two contests.

Skinner's latest performance was one of the finest of his career, netting his first hat trick to power the Hurricanes to a 5-2 win at Nashville on Thursday.

"He's shooting the puck," coach Kirk Muller said of Skinner's recent surge. "He's a goal scorer when he shoots the puck. He can score when he gets those opportunities, so he's working for it."

Skinner has one goal and one assist in two career meetings with the Sharks, finding the net in the most recent matchup.

Justin Faulk also had a goal in that meeting. The defenseman has two goals and four assists over the past six games and recorded his first three-point game Thursday, including a goal in the opening 23 seconds.

"Any time you can establish good play or good momentum early in the game, let alone a goal, is always huge," Faulk said. "You don't go into the game expecting to score on your first shift or your first shot on net, but obviously when you do that it kind of gives your team a little bit of a boost."

Carolina could use another as it tries to win three straight games for the first time since a four-game winning streak from Feb. 28-March 5.

Justin Peters has started each of the last two games, stopping 46 of 49 shots. He made 35 saves against the Sharks on Feb. 17, 2012.

That may be enough to get the nod over Cam Ward, who has a 3.67 goals-against average while winning two of three meetings with San Jose.

Ward has lost his last two games while allowing eight goals on 61 shots.

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