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7:30 PM PT8:30 PM MT9:30 PM CT10:30 PM ET2:30 GMT10:30 7:30 PM MST9:30 PM EST6:30 UAE (+1)22:30 ETNaN:� BRT, October 3, 2018
SAP Center at San Jose, San Jose, California  Attendance: 17,562

Sharks to unleash Karlsson on Ducks

Anaheim Ducks at San Jose Sharks

  1. The Ducks finished last season at 44-25-13, leaving them in second place in the Pacific. It was the first time since 2011-12 that they failed to win the division. They were swept out of the playoffs by San Jose, only the second time they've made it to the playoffs and failed to win a game (1998-99 vs. Detroit).
  2. The Sharks finished at 45-27-10, good for third place in the Pacific. With their sweep of the Ducks, the Sharks advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the ninth time in the past 14 seasons, more than any other team in that span.
  3. San Jose went 3-0-1 against the Ducks last season, with three of the four games decided in a shootout. The Sharks were 8-1-0 at home against Anaheim from 2012-13 to 2015-16, but they're just 2-2-1 over the last two seasons.
  4. Rickard Rakell led the Ducks with 34 goals and 69 points, becoming the first player other than Ryan Getzlaf to lead the team in points since Teemu Selanne in 2011-12. In Rakell's first four full seasons in the league, he has increased his point total by at least eight points each season.
  5. Brent Burns led the Sharks in points last season with 67, one of two blueliners across the league to lead his team or have a share of the team lead in points. The other was new teammate Erik Karlsson, who tied for Ottawa's lead with 62.
  6. The Sharks' 10-11-4 (.480) record when trailing after the first period was the best in the NHL last season, with their 10 wins second only to Los Angeles' 12. Meanwhile, the Ducks were 5-17-2 when trailing after one, tied for 19th in the league.

Last February, the San Jose Sharks made the biggest splash at the NHL trading deadline when they acquired Evander Kane to bolster their offense.

And for an encore? They brought aboard arguably the league's top defenseman to join one who's consistently among the NHL's best.

With Erik Karlsson in the fold, the Sharks open the 2018-19 season Wednesday night against the Anaheim Ducks at SAP Center.

San Jose acquired the 28-year-old Karlsson -- a two-time Norris Trophy winner -- from the Ottawa Senators on Sept. 13 in exchange for defenseman Dylan DeMelo, center Chris Tierney and a package of draft picks and prospects.

"It's extremely rare that players of this caliber become available," general manager Doug Wilson told the league's official website on the day of the trade. "The word 'elite' is often thrown around casually but Erik's skillset and abilities fit that description like few other players in today's game."

The addition of Karlsson -- who is eligible for free agency next July -- to join fellow Norris winner Brent Burns, 33, gives the Sharks two of the top blueliners in the game and an expected boost on offense.

Since his rookie year in 2009-10, Karlsson leads the league in scoring by defensemen with 518 points, while Burns is second with 449. Burns has the most goals at the position in that span with 147. Karlsson tops the list with 392 assists.

With a roster that features Joe Pavelski (34 years old) and Joe Thornton (39) coming back from a serious knee injury, San Jose has to be hyped about seeing what the 27-year-old Kane can do over course of a season.

Kane, selected fourth overall in the 2009 NHL Draft, never lived up to lofty expectations in nine-plus seasons with the Atlanta Thrashers, Winnipeg Jets and Buffalo Sabres before being dealt to the Sharks for center Danny O'Regan and draft picks.

In 17 games with his new club, Kane collected nine goals -- including a career-high four against the Calgary Flames on March 16. In his first postseason action, Kane recorded four goals in nine contests, but the Sharks lost in the second round to the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in six games.

Kane signed a seven-year contract extension in May.

"We're not asking him to, and we never have asked him to, carry the mail here," coach Peter DeBoer told the San Jose Mercury News on Sept. 28. "He's a piece of what we're doing, and an important piece, but it's not a situation where if he doesn't produce, we don't win."

Anaheim finished one point ahead of San Jose in the regular season, but was outscored 16-4 while being swept by the Sharks in the opening round of the playoffs.

This is also a team looking to get younger. For years, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry were synonymous with the Ducks, but both are 33 and heading into their 14th seasons. Getzlaf is coming off a campaign in which he matched a career low with 11 goals, while Perry -- a one-time 50-goal scorer -- has 36 combined over the last two seasons.

It will be a while before Perry takes the ice again. He underwent knee surgery in September and will miss up to five months.

"It's a big blow to our club," defenseman Cam Fowler told the Orange County Register on Sept. 27. "You feel for Corey, first and foremost. ... Unfortunately, it is part of the business and we have to move on."

On Tuesday, the club said emerging star Ondrej Kase -- a 20-goal scorer last season -- is out indefinitely with a concussion suffered in Saturday's exhibition finale.

All that makes Rickard Rakell more valuable. The 25-year-old winger scored a team-high 34 goals last season to follow up the 33 he tallied in 2016-17. Youngsters such as Max Comtois, Sam Steel and Troy Terry will also need to contribute immediately as veterans Patrick Eaves (shoulder) and Ryan Kesler (hip) continue to heal.

One position the Ducks won't have to worry about is in goal. John Gibson, armed with an eight-year contract extension, is back after collecting a career-best 31 wins. Since 2014-15, the Pittsburgh native is tied for second in the league in save percentage (.923) and ranks third in goals-against average (2.30).

Backup Ryan Miller embarks on his 16th NHL campaign and second with Anaheim. He logged 12 wins and a 2.35 goals-against average in 28 games (21 starts) last season.

Martin Jones, coming off his third straight 30-win season, will see the bulk of the playing time for San Jose, while backup Aaron Dell (15-5-4, 2.64 GAA, two shutouts) has the skills to start for several teams.

Updated October 2, 2018

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