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Red Wings Vs. Sharks NHL Preview: Western Conference Rivals Set To Renew Hostilities

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On Thursday, the Detroit Red Wings will head to the HP Pavilion in San Jose to take on one of their biggest Western Conference rivals in the San Jose Sharks. It will be the second of four meetings between the two teams this season; the first was won by the Sharks on Oct. 28 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Joe Thornton scored two goals in that game, including the game-winner. These two teams have played 12 playoffs games, with the Sharks winning eight, over the last two years. The only two teams to compete more in the playoffs over that time are the Canucks and Blackhawks, who combined for 13 games in that span.

Detroit recovered nicely from a bad six-game losing streak by winning four straight before losing in their last outing, a 2-1 loss to the resurgent St. Louis Blues. The Red Wings snapped that big losing streak with a 5-0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, and then went on to win their next three games, outscoring their opponents 18-4 in that span, with two shutouts. Even factoring in Tuesday's loss to the Blues, Detroit has outs-cored their opponents 19-6 in their last five games.

The Red Wings will be without defenseman Ian White, who has a broken cheekbone and Todd Bertuzzi, who is on IR with a sinus infection that caused dizziness.

San Jose lost its last outing, a 3-0 shutout at the hands of the Phoenix Coyotes at home. San Jose out-shot the Coyotes through periods two and three, but goalie Mike Smith wouldn't relent, buoyed by the quick 2-0 first period lead. Before that, the Sharks were winners in eight of their last ten games, with an 8-1-1 record in that span. They're near the top of the highly competitive Pacific Division and are closing out a six-game homestand with this game against the Red Wings. 

The Sharks have looked better on the road this season, which is where they ultimately beat the Red Wings 4-2 earlier this season. Thursday is a chance for Detroit to avenge that loss with a win to quiet the fans at the Shark Tank in San Jose.