Final SO

Series (Game 1 of 1)

Boston leads 1-0

Game 1: Thursday, January 14th

Bruins 2

(23-16-7, 53 pts)

Sharks 1

(30-10-8, 68 pts)

Coverage: NHL

10:30 PM ET, January 14, 2010

SAP Center, San Jose, California

1 2 3 SO T
BOS 0 1 0 12
SJ 0 1 0 01

T. Thomas (Bruins - G): Saves: 41, Save Pct.: .976

J. Thornton (Sharks - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

D. Paille (Bruins - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Bruins-Sharks Preview


The San Jose Sharks and Boston Bruins were the top two teams in the NHL when they met in a highly-anticipated game last season.

Only one of them is playing well right now.

The Sharks seek their third straight win Thursday when they host the slumping Bruins, losers of their last three.

San Jose (30-10-7), which leads the NHL with 67 points, has won three of four and 11 of 13, including a 3-1 victory at Phoenix on Tuesday. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 32 shots to record his conference-leading 26th win and continued his recent impressive play.

Nabokov has won 10 of his last 12 starts, giving up more than two goals just twice during that stretch for a 2.03 goals-against average.

He's been assisted by a penalty-killing unit that's gone 55 for 61 in the last 13 games, and turned back all seven of the Coyotes' opportunities Tuesday.

"Our penalty kill gives us a chance to win every night," coach Todd McLellan said.

While Nabokov has been stellar in net, Patrick Marleau has provided the bulk of the scoring over the last week.

Marleau had a shorthanded goal in the opening period Tuesday and added his league-leading 31st goal on a power play later in the period. He has scored six of his team's 14 goals in the last six games, and has scored once in each of his last four games at home.

Marleau had a goal and an assist to help the Sharks defeat the Bruins 5-2 in Boston last February, in a meeting of the top teams from each conference. Joe Thornton scored his first goal in three games against the Bruins, who drafted him with the first overall pick in 1997, and dealt him to San Jose on Nov. 30, 2005.

While San Jose again is atop the West, Boston (22-16-7) is tied for fifth in the East. The Bruins have lost three in a row in regulation for the first time since a four-game skid in December 2007.

"Last year at this time, we went to Boston and so much was made of the two No. 1 teams," McLellan told the Sharks' official Web site. "It's not like that this year and that's a good thing for our team."

The injury-riddled Bruins will try to bounce back after they led 3-2 entering the third period Wednesday in Anaheim, but wound up losing 4-3.

Zdeno Chara, Matt Hunwick and Marco Sturm all scored for Boston in the second period, but Tuukka Rask gave up two goals in the first nine minutes of the third. Rask finished with 28 saves.

"The effort was there (Wednesday), and that is what is frustrating," coach Claude Julien said. "Mistakes ended up costing us in the end. But is we can get the same kind of effort and cut down on our mistakes, we will be on the right track."

Tim Thomas figures to be back in net for the Bruins on Thursday, but he has given up seven goals in his last two starts against Chicago and the New York Rangers. However, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner has been outstanding on the road recently, winning three of his last four starts while posting a 1.00 GAA.

Thomas has had to play well to win while the Bruins cope with a rash of injuries. Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference and Mark Stuart all missed the start of this three-game California trip Wednesday.

Thomas has split two starts against the Sharks, winning in Boston's last visit to San Jose in 2007.