February 05, 2015

After finally securing a playoff berth, the San Jose Sharks can now turn their focus toward gaining home ice for the opening round.

The Sharks look to aid their chances by taking advantage of back-to-back matchups against the eliminated Vancouver Canucks, who are attempting to avoid their worst winless stretch in 18 seasons Tuesday night.

San Jose came up short in three consecutive attempts to earn a clinching victory during its season-high six-game homestand but finally guaranteed its 11th postseason appearance in 12 seasons with a 5-2 win against Los Angeles on Monday night.

"We've been playing some good hockey, but we just hadn't clinched. It's good to finally get that out of the way, and now just keep playing hard and stay healthy," forward Joe Thornton said.

Thornton scored the tiebreaking power-play goal with 15:32 remaining, one of his team's three in the final period. Thornton has at least one point in each of San Jose's last 29 wins dating back to Nov. 28, matching the NHL's fifth-longest such streak since at least 1989-90.

The win kept the Sharks four points behind Anaheim for second place in the Pacific Division and the chance to host their opening-round series. The idle Ducks will have two games in hand on San Jose after Tuesday.

"We're very comfortable. We're as deep as anybody and as far as I'm concerned, we can play with anybody," Thornton said.

The Sharks also cut their deficit to division-leading Los Angeles to five points Tuesday. San Jose is playing three of its next four on the road, where it is 5-1-1 in its last seven games.

The Sharks have won nine straight in Vancouver, including two in the postseason, and claimed victories Feb. 28 and March 3. They failed to complete a home-and-home sweep after winning 3-2 in the latest visit, losing 4-2 on March 5.

The Canucks (27-35-13) are 0-7-1 since a 4-2 win over Nashville on March 12 and have been outscored 24-7 in those defeats. They've lost four straight at home after a 3-2 loss to Chicago on Sunday.

The Canucks' power play also dropped to 1 for 30 in the past 11 contests by going 0 for 2 against the Blackhawks.

"You never want to lose that many games in a row. Right now it's frustrating because we know we're not going to get in (the playoffs)," forward Alex Burrows said. "It's going to be a really long summer of working out and a lot of time in the gym. We have to use these next few weeks for the young guys to show what they got."

Vancouver hasn't lost nine straight since a franchise-worst 10-game skid from Oct. 23-Nov. 11, 1997. They also had two ties during a 10-game winless stretch from Jan. 7-28, 1998.

Thornton has one goal and six assists in a five-game point streak against Vancouver.

The Canucks and Sharks will meet again Thursday night in San Jose.

You May Like