Sharks-Ducks pregame: Joakim Ryan gets the message from coaching staff

ANAHEIM Sharks coach Pete DeBoer has known nothing but close games with the Anaheim Ducks since he came to San Jose nearly three years ago.

Since the start of the 2015-16 season, all 11 games between the Sharks and Ducks has been decided by two goals or less. The last 10 have been decided by one goal, with four going to a shootout or overtime.

DeBoer doesnt expect anything different when the two teams renew their rivalry Sunday at Honda Center. The Sharks allow 2.62 goals per game, fifth-best in the NHL. The Ducks allow 2.64 goals a game, seventh-best.

The Sharks entered Sunday in second place in the Pacific Division with 56 points, with the Ducks tied for fourth place with 53 points. Anaheim has won three of for and the Sharks have won four of their last five.

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We play similar styles. Both built around defending well, good goaltending, Sharks DeBoer said. We all know the stakes when you get these divisional games. So Im not surprised. Thats a lot of one-goal games, but it feels like that. It feels like every game is a battle right to the end.

The Sharks are making one lineup change as DeBoer said forward Joonas Donskoi is out with the flu. Jannik Hansen, who has been a scratch for six straight games and nine of the last 10.

Joakim Ryan will start alongside Brent Burns on the Sharks second defense pair for the fifth straight game. In the last four games, the Burns-Ryan pair has only been on the ice for two even strength goals, both coming against the Colorado Avalanche last Thursday, a 5-3 Sharks loss.

And if such stats matter, Ryan also leads the Sharks with a plus/minus rating of +8.

Whether hes with Burns or not with Burns, I like that hes come back and hes moving, DeBoer said. Thats the big thing for me. Hes skating. Hes moving his feet. He got into a spot prior the break where he wasnt using his best asset, which is his feet. I find that hes re-energized. Hes starting to skate more.

I dont think thats because hes playing with Burnzie. I just think hes put an emphasis on it and weve put an emphasis with him on that.

Burns and Ryan were again solid against the Penguins. Matched up largely against Evgeni Marlkins line, the duo helped limit Malkin, Patric Hornqvist and Carl Hagelin to a combined six shots on goal,

Anytime you can hold guys like Malkin and (Phil) Kessel to no goals when youre playing against them is a good accomplishment, Ryan said. Its just hockey. The biggest thing for us against guys like that is taking away time and space and their speed, making sure were staying above them.

? DeBoer feels Kevin Labanc, who has one goal in his last 36 games, been a bit snakebit around the net. Labanc had a third-period breakaway attempt Saturday stopped by Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith, one of his four shots on net.

Labanc has been on the Sharks second line with Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl and a part of the San Joses second power play unit. He has two assists in seven games.

I dont have a problem with his game. I know the 5-on-5 numbers, but hes an elite power play guy, DeBoer said. He helps our power play. He creates a ton of opportunities and chances on our power play for us. I think hes been a little snakebit. Hes playing with Couture and Hertl. Hes one of the guys we have at our disposal that can think at that level. Good players want to play with guys who can make plays and have confidence, and have the offensive ability to do that.

? The Sharks joined the rest of the hockey world in mourning the death of USA Hockey general manager Jim Johannson, who unexpectedly passed away early Sunday morning at the age of 53.

DeBoer knew Johannson. He played against him in the minors and got to know him through his son, Jack, who is a forward on the U.S. National under-18 team in Michigan.

Tragic is the only word. Shocking and tragic, DeBoer said. He was a great man. I think his legacy and what hes done for USA Hockey in the last 15 years will be remembered forever. But beyond that, he was a gentleman.

Johannsons death comes less than a month from the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Barracuda forward John McCarthy was selected by Johannson to play for the U.S. at the games.

Johannson played his college hockey at Wisconsin and according to the Associated Press, began working for USA Hockey in 2000. He was named assistant executive director of hockey operations in 2007, as helped the organization put together teams for international competition.

Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, who represented the U.S. at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, tweeted, I am deeply saddened by the passing of JJ. @usahockey and the entire hockey community lost an incredible friend & ambassador today. Thoughts and prayers are with his family in this difficult time.