Leafs try to break scoring drought in clash with Sharks

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(SportsNetwork.com) - The struggling Toronto Maple Leafs need wins to get their postseason quest back on track, but they might settle for scoring a goal when they visit the San Jose Sharks in Thursday's clash at SAP Center.

The Maple Leafs are mired in a 1-5-0 slump and the club has been shut out in the first two tests of a four-game road trip. Toronto lost 2-0 in Los Angeles on Monday before dropping Wednesday's tilt in Anaheim by a 4-0 count.

Toronto's last goal came on an empty-net tally with 1:13 left in Friday's 5-2 home win over Columbus, but the Leafs enter Thursday with a road scoring drought of 157 minutes, 41 seconds.

The Maple Leafs have just one win in four games since Peter Horachek was named interim head coach to replace the fired Randy Carlyle. Toronto was in playoff position at the time of Carlyle's dismissal, but the club is currently five points out of a postseason berth in the East.

Toronto fired 28 shots at Frederik Andersen on Wednesday, but the Ducks netminder stopped them all to silence the Leafs' offense. Corey Perry, meanwhile, recorded a hat trick for Anaheim.

Jonathan Bernier allowed three goals on 24 shots for the Maple Leafs, who are 3-10-0 over their last 13 games.

"We're pretty happy with our process," Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk said. "We just have to capitalize on our chances."

Toronto was blanked in back-to-back games for the first time since March 10-11, 2012 against the Flyers and Capitals.

The Leafs are just 7-10-3 on the road this season. They will complete this swing Saturday in St. Louis.

The Sharks will try to win for the fourth time in six games tonight after halting a two-game slide with Tuesday's triumph in the desert. Brenden Dillon's first goal of the season came in the third period and gave San Jose a 3-2 road win over the Arizona Coyotes.

With the score tied in the third, the Sharks went ahead as Dillon snapped a shot on net from the left point that hit off the left skate of Zbynek Michalek and made its way past Devan Dubnyk.

"It was a pretty evenly played game tonight," said San Jose head coach Todd McLellan. "Usually with games like this it's the team that gets the break that wins the game and that's what happened tonight."

Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl each had a goal for the Sharks, while Antti Niemi stopped 27 shots in the win.

The two points allowed San Jose to leap past the Los Angeles Kings for second place in the Pacific Division. The Kings had a chance to regain the spot on Wednesday, but L.A. lost a home test to New Jersey.

San Jose is hoping to pad its playoff credentials on home ice over the next few weeks. The Sharks, who are 10-7-2 as the host this season, begin a seven- game homestand tonight. The extended residency will feature a meeting with Los Angeles on Jan. 21.

Niemi is expected to start tonight for the Sharks. He boasts a 3-1-0 record and 2.01 goals against average in four career games against Toronto.

James Reimer is likely to start for the Leafs. He is 1-3-0 with a 3.27 goals against average in his career versus the Sharks.

San Jose has won three straight and seven of the last eight meetings against the Maple Leafs. Toronto is just 1-4-0 with two ties over its last seven trips to the Shark Tank.