Sharks try to put together win streak against Panthers

( - The San Jose Sharks will try to win consecutive games for the first time in January when they visit the Florida Panthers for Thursday's clash at BB&T Center.

The Sharks, who are sitting in second place in the extremely tough Pacific Division, have not had a winning streak since a four-game run from Dec. 21-29. They also haven't dropped two straight since a four-game slide from Dec. 5-10.

San Jose opened a three-game road trip with Tuesday's 2-1 shootout win in Washington. It marked the 17th victory in the last 18 tries for the Sharks against the Capitals.

Patrick Marleau scored the lone shootout goal in the second round of the tiebreaker on Tuesday. He moved the puck from the backhand to the forehand and fired a shot past Philipp Grubauer and in off the left post.

San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi stopped 35 shots and needed to make only one save in the shootout after both Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom missed the net.

Tyler Kennedy scored the lone regulation goal for the Sharks, who improved to 13-10-3 as the road team this season. San Jose is scheduled to cap its road trip Saturday against Tampa Bay.

The Panthers, meanwhile, are coming off Tuesday's home win over the New York Islanders and tonight the club will try to win consecutive games for the first time since posting a season-best five-game winning streak from Dec. 10-19.

Florida snapped New York's seven-game road winning streak with Tuesday's 4-2 victory. Scottie Upshall notched a goal and an assist, as the Panthers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period and led by four goals before holding on for the win.

Drew Shore, Aleksander Barkov and Nick Bjugstad each scored once, while Tim Thomas turned aside 31 shots for Florida, which improved to 4-1-2 over its last seven games.

"The guys did what they had to," Florida head coach Peter Horachek said. "They battled down to the very end and Timmy (Thomas) played his normal, solid self."

Florida has won two straight and three of its last four home games and is 10-9-4 in Sunrise this season.

Thomas expects to get the start for the Panthers tonight and he is 2-4-0 with a 2.03 goals against average in his career against San Jose. Niemi is 1-1-0 with a 1.52 GAA in two lifetime games versus Florida.

San Jose hasn't beaten the Panthers since Oct. 31, 2006, losing four straight in this series since that 2-1 regulation win. Florida has won the last two encounters on home ice.