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Streaky Sharks looking to break three-game slide tonight

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Just after they won nine of ten in a positive streak, the San Jose Sharks have turned around and lost three straight games in a negative slide -- once again, dropping out of first place in the National Hockey League's Pacific Division.

The Sharks went just 1-3 on their recent road trip, losing at Pittsburgh, Carolina and Minnesota but a combined score of 13-5.

The 5-3 loss to the Hurricanes on Friday night was particularly ugly, as San Jose gave up four goals in the third period to lose for the first time this season when leading after two periods.

Sooner or later that Shark habit of flailing in the third was going to cost the team a win, and it finally did at Carolina. San Jose followed that up with another stinker, losing 3-1 to Minnesota in a game where the Wild only had 13 shots on goal the entire game.

Go explain that one, hockey fans.

You really cannot.

So now the Sharks (19-6-5) host the New York Islanders (8-18-5) back in San Jose tonight at the SAP Center, and the worst team in the new Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference should be perfect chum for the home team.

But in reality, you just never know what you're going to get with San Jose hockey team. Sometimes, it's brilliance; other times, it's laughable incompetence.

Hockey is a funny game that way, and the teams that survive in the end play with brilliance a little more consistently than the next club.

Whatever the form the Sharks take tonight, goaltender Antti Niemi needs to be a bit better than he has been his last few times out. His save percentage this month is just .884, and he's surrendered six goals on the last 39 shots he's faced (against Pittsburgh and Minnesota).

San Jose needs its No. 1 goalie to play better than that if they want to win consistently.

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