(Sports Network) - Two of the hottest teams in the NHL square off this evening as the San Jose Sharks seek a sixth victory in a row against a New Jersey Devils club that can match its longest winning streak of the season.
The Sharks head to the Prudential Center having won a season-best five straight overall, including the first four contests of a seven-game road trip. San Jose is 9-0-1 in its last 10 contests since a six-game slide from Jan. 3-13 and is now tied with Dallas for first place in the Pacific Division with 66 points.
While the Sharks have stormed up their division standings, the Devils are trying to make a late run at a postseason spot and have used an 11-1-2 mark over their last 14 games to climb out of last place in the Eastern Conference. New Jersey now sits 13th in the East, 13 points back of the eighth spot.
The Devils have won three straight and are 5-0-1 in their last six games following last night's 2-1 overtime victory over the Maple Leafs. Dainius Zubrus had the game-tying goal in the third period and Ilya Kovalchuk put home the winner with 24 seconds left in the extra period.
"We aren't looking too far ahead," Zubrus said. "Our goals are much smaller ... Maybe that's why we're addressing each opponent and trying to win that game."
The victory was the 600th of Jacques Lemaire's NHL coaching career and he became the eighth coach in league history to reach the mark. Lemaire took over on Dec. 23 for the fired John MacLean for his third stint with the club.
New Jersey, which won a season-best four straight games from Jan. 17-23, is also 5-0-1 in its last six games at home and is expected to be without goaltender Martin Brodeur for a third straight contest tonight due to a sprained right knee. Johan Hedberg has started both games in his absence and made 31 saves versus Toronto.
Defenseman Anton Volchenkov will also miss tonight's game as he serves the second contest of a three-game suspension for an elbow to the head against Carolina on Tuesday.
San Jose tries to win six straight for the first time since an eight-game run from Dec. 17-Jan. 2 of last season and is coming off Wednesday's 3-2 victory over Columbus. Kent Huskins and Kyle Wellwood scored second-period goals to erase a 2-0 deficit and Patrick Marleau potted the game-winner late in regulation.
Antti Niemi made 42 saves in the winning effort as the Sharks improved to 6-0-1 in their last seven on the road.
"To come back in that fashion was nice, and our goaltender played a huge part in that," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "We'll take the win, but obviously there are areas that we were not happy with."
San Jose halted a three-game losing streak to New Jersey on Oct. 27 with a 5-2 home win, getting a hat trick and five points from Joe Thornton as well as a goal and three assists each from Marleau and Dany Heatley.
The Sharks have lost four straight in the Garden State and haven't won there since Nov. 14, 2000.