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Ducks at Sharks Preview: I knew you were trouble

Can the Sharks just have a normal hockey game?

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Frank Vatrano #77 of the Anaheim Ducks scores a goal past Matt Benning #5 of the San Jose Sharks in the first period at SAP Center on November 01, 2022 in San Jose, California. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

California rivals, the Anaheim Ducks (3-7-1, eighth Pacific), are back in town to face off against the San Jose Sharks (3-8-2, seventh Pacific) for the second time in five days. Since the last time these two teams saw each other, the Ducks lost 8-5 in another defense-optional game against the Vancouver Canucks. Andrei Kuzmenko — an off-season Canucks addition from the KHL — did his best Erik Karlsson impression, scoring a hat trick and adding an assist. Troy Terry scored a goal and an assist for Anaheim, while John Gibson stopped 39 of 46 shots.

Meanwhile, Erik Karlsson continued his renaissance season, adding another goal and two assists in the Sharks' 4-3 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday. Matt Benning and Timo Meier notched the other goals, as the Sharks continue to play both exciting and losing hockey. The last four games have all been decided in overtime, a shootout or the final minute of regulation.

Heading into this game, injuries on the Ducks remain the same. Jamie Drysdale on injured reserved for four to six months with a torn labrum in his shoulder. Veteran defender Sam Carrick is now on a conditioning stint with Anaheim’s AHL affiliate, the San Diego Gulls, on his way to returning.

San Jose is dealing with some minor injuries. Marc-Edouard Vlasic left Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury, but was seen at Friday’s practice. He is expected to play tonight, but keep an eye on transactions for a recalled defender, to add depth before the San Jose Barracuda heads to Calgary to face the Wranglers on Sunday. Scott Harrington would most likely draw in for Vlasic.

Erik Karlsson, You Need to Calm Down

Our Swedish King has returned to his former glory this season. The 32-year-old has posted 10 goals in 13 games to start the season, a rate for a defender that has not been seen since pre-WWII days when there were six NHL teams and the players all had to work side jobs in the summer. Karlsson is accomplishing something that he should be happy about when he looks back in 50 years.

Karlsson had played four straight multi-point games and has the chance to break Brent Burns’ franchise record in consecutive games with a goal for a defenseman if he scores on Saturday night. Karlsson’s three points in a single period were the first time he had managed to rack up points that quickly since December 2011. He is feeling it right now and we should all just sit back and enjoy it.

Baby, Now We’ve Got Bad Blood

Trevor Zegras was fined $1,500 for “slashing” Matt Benning in Tuesday’s game and many Sharks players were not happy about the call. It’s feeling like there could be some retaliation coming Zegras’ way, especially with such a quick turnaround in a match-up between the pair.

Then there was this hit on Patric Hornqvist, for which Luke Kunin received a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. Kunin is not expected be receive any additional discipline, but will be under the watchful eye of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

The potential retaliation on both sides has the makings of a chaotic game between two long-time rivals. Whatever the over on penalty minutes is, take the over.

Shake It Off

After expecting tight play from Kaapo Kahkonen and Anthony Stolarz, the last game between the two turned into a 10-goal affair with multiple lead changes. How do both of these goaltenders bounce back from subpar performances against bad offenses?

Panthers vs Sharks Rankings via JFresh Hockey
Ducks vs Sharks Rankings via JFresh Hockey

The Ducks have gotten good finishing and average goals for a team that is constantly being outshot and hosts a putrid power play. The Sharks have been a bit better in getting the offense going recently and the power play is starting to click. A bounce-back performance from either goaltender could go a long way in deciding this game.

With the team off until Thursday after tonight, a good game from Kahkonen could help build up some confidence and give James Reimer some much-deserved rest.

Bold Prediction: Erik Karlsson breaks the franchise record for consecutive games with a goal. There will be at least one fight, as San Jose tries to even up the score on Zegras. The Sharks win 3-2 and end the homestand feeling good about themselves.