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Sharks at Canucks Preview: Maintaining momentum going into the ‘yoffs

Anyone else feel like scoring four goals tonight?

Feb 15, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Chris Tierney (50) controls the puck against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks managed to net seven goals in a 7-4 victory over the Calgary Flames last night. Newcomer Evander Kane had four of those seven goals. The Sharks lost Joonas Donskoi to injury and Kane himself was a game-time decision facing injury himself. The Sharks continue to struggle with injuries, but members of the team are stepping up and filling the gaps. The Sharks were coming off two high-scoring wins prior to the victory in Calgary. The Sharks beat the struggling Detroit Red Wings 5-3 and came home with a 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers.

The Sharks typically fare well against the Vancouver Canucks. They beat them 4-1 back in February, with goals from Mikkel Boedker, Brent Burns, Chris Tierney, and Marcus Sorenson. Daniel Sedin had the lone goal for the Canucks. During the 2016-2017 season, the Sharks won every matchup with the Canucks.

The Vancouver Canucks have not had an easy go of it this season. They sit just above the Arizona Coyotes in the Pacific with a 25-37-9 record. They’re in the midst of a five-game losing streak. Sunday, they lost 1-0 to the Coyotes, Monday they fell 3-0 to the Los Angeles Kings, and Wednesday was a 3-0 defeat from the Anaheim Ducks. Losing three straight to division rivals, it’s safe to assume the Canucks will be desperate for a win as the Sharks roll into town.

Vancouver signed blueliner Erik Gudbranson to a three-year contract extension at the trade deadline in hopes of providing some structure to their struggling team. Gudbranson will be out the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, leaving fans with questions regarding the extension. The Canucks have struggled a lot with injuries this season. They also lost Chris Tanev to a broken leg (and a thumb injury earlier in the season). Looks like Tanev will be back in the line up sooner than later. Maybe tonight against the Sharks?

A red-hot Sharks offense against a struggling Canucks defense?

Eh, I’m not so sure. Sure, the Sharks are looking good offensively right now, and yes, the Canucks are certainly a dumpster fire right now. I don’t think it’s safe to assume this will be an easy victory for the men in teal. Against the Los Angeles Kings, Canucks goaltender Anders Nilsson saved 30 of 33 shots LA put on the net. In Anaheim, Jacob Markstrom was between the pipes and made 34 saves on 37 shots. Goaltending has kept Vancouver from being that bad defensively. Just because the Sharks are getting pucks into the net doesn’t mean this game will be a breeze.

Maybe Vancouver has an offensive surge brewing?

I can confidently tell you that I do not see this being an issue. Sure, the Sharks blue line and netminding have been spotty at times, but I don’t think Vancouver will be able to capitalize if the Sharks can’t deliver defensively. Vancouver’s shots on goal statistics are... not the best. Against the Anaheim Ducks, the Canucks had 33 shots on goal, none of which actually found the net. The game against Arizona was worse with 27 shots on goal against the last place team. Arizona had only 24 shot attempts but managed to find the back of the net with one of those. Vancouver just can’t seem to get goals in, and the Sharks can benefit from that.

Are the Sharks bound to burn out?

Evander Kane had his first career hat trick, which evolved into his first four-goal game yesterday. It was fun to see so many goals finding the back of the net for the Sharks, especially coming from different sticks than we’re used to seeing. The Sharks haven’t been having high scoring games until recently. At the beginning of the month, they had another seven-goal game and fizzled out a bit until they found the back of the net five times against Detroit. Could the Sharks fizzle out again? I mean maybe. Scoring a lot of goals is hard. I think the Sharks are in turbo mode coming into the playoffs. The Pacific Division is so tight. Each team in a playoff spot really needs to claw their way there. I think the Sharks will continue to thrive up front. I don’t think we’ll see them crash and burn.

Bold prediction: Joonas Donskoi will return and he will score. This isn’t as much a bold prediction as it is me speaking this into the universe in hopes it happens. Get well soon, Donskoi.

Make sure you come back later for our game thread where you’ll find out my bold prediction was wrong. Leave your bold predictions in the comments below!