SHARKS (18-3-5) at MAPLE LEAFS (14-10-3)
TV: CSN-CA, SNET-O
Last 10: San Jose 8-1-1; Toronto 3-4-3
Season series: This is the first of two games the San Jose Sharks and Toronto Maple Leafs will play. They haven't played each other since Feb. 23, 2012, when Patrick Marleau scored two goals in a 2-1 win by the Sharks at Air Canada Centre.
Big story: The Maple Leafs play 10 of their 14 games in December at home, where they're off to a 9-4-0 start. The Pacific Division-leading Sharks enter on a five-game winning streak.
Sharks: This is the start of a four-game road trip for San Jose, which completed a sweep of its recent homestand with a 4-3 shootout win against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. Joe Pavelski's goal helped the Sharks move into first place by a point over the Ducks with three games in hand.
"It's the division, it's the conference," coach Todd McLellan said. "It's that close. It's got to be exciting for hockey fans all over because there really isn't anybody that's pulling away or a clear-cut favorite, and some really important hard-fought games at this time of year."
The Sharks are rolling again after an 0-4-1 stretch from Oct. 30-Nov. 10. They've won eight of nine since and outscored the Tampa Bay Lightning, New Jersey Devils, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and Ducks by a 20-10 aggregate during their latest successful run at SAP Center.
Maple Leafs: It was a week of horrors for Toronto, starting with a 6-0 loss on home ice to the Columbus Blue Jackets and continuing with a three-game road trip where the Maple Leafs were swept. Even in the game when they picked up a point, they blew leads of 4-1 and 5-3 to the Pittsburgh Penguins en route to a shootout defeat.
"We need to find our spark," goalie Jonathan Bernier said. "We have to be excited to play, and we have to find a way to score goals. That's what we were doing at the start of the season."
Who's hot: Joe Thornton has two goals and five assists during a five-game point streak for the Sharks. … Phil Kessel has two goals and one assist during a three-game point streak for the Maple Leafs, Tyler Bozak has one goal and three assists during a three-game point streak, and van Riemsdyk has three goals in as many games.
Injury report: San Jose forwards Raffi Torres (knee) and Adam Burish (lower body) are on injured reserve. … Toronto forwards Dave Bolland (ankle) and Joffrey Lupul (groin) are on injured reserve. Lupul skated Monday. Defenseman Cody Franson (lower body) is day-to-day.
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