|Kane, Sharks take on Canucks in Vancouver|
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- As Evander Kane returns to his hometown, he has a chance to go where he has never gone before.
The Stanley Cup playoffs.
Kane's cause could be boosted when the San Jose Sharks (39-23-9) visit the woeful Vancouver Canucks (25-37-9) at Rogers Arena.
"I had played on winning teams all my life," Kane, a 26-year-old Vancouver native, told Postmedia. "It's been really frustrating so far in the NHL."
He moved closer to easing his frustration on Friday night -- by scoring four goals in San Jose's 7-4 triumph over the Flames in Calgary.
Kane began his NHL career with the Atlanta Thrashers and moved to Winnipeg when the franchise relocated there, but played for nonplayoff editions of the Jets. He then toiled for bad Buffalo teams before the Sabres dealt him to the Sharks at this year's trade deadline.
His NHL sojourn has been a sharp contrast from his junior tenure, when he won Memorial Cup and Western Hockey League championships with the Vancouver Giants and also helped Canada win a world junior crown.
"The urge and the drive to win in this league and to be part of the playoffs has never left me," Kane, who has had some off-ice disciplinary issues, told Postmedia. "In fact, it's been ignited even more coming to a team like San Jose. It's fun being in a playoff race. It's fun playing every night with two points meaning so much."
Although the Sharks currently sit second in the Pacific Division, a playoff berth is not assured.
If Kane does get to the promised land, he will not be sporting a model beard that makes hirsute teammates Joe Thornton and Brent Burns proud.
"You're not going to see too much," Kane told Postmedia. "It's certainly not going to be like Jumbo's beard or Burnsie's beard. Maybe that's why the hockey gods have kept me out of the playoffs for so long. They knew that I have limited capability with the facial hair."
Meanwhile, the Canucks have no scoring capability. They have been shut out in their past three games.
The Canucks will try to end their drought against Sharks backup goaltender Aaron Dell, who is expected to get the call after starter Martin Jones played Friday.
In December, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer opted to go with Dell against the better team, Calgary because he hails from nearby Airdrie, Alberta, and Jones, a North Vancouver, B.C., native, got to play in his hometown. But with a playoff spot on the line, Jones faced the tougher opponent this time.
"We're at a different point of the season than the last time we were (in Western Canada)," DeBoer told The San Jose Mercury News.
The Canucks will try to beat Dell early to avoid some club infamy. They have gone 212 minutes and nine seconds without scoring and can set a franchise record for longest scoreless stint if they go about another 23 minutes without turning the red light on.
Vancouver has lost five straight games since rookie sensation and top scorer Brock Boeser was sidelined with a likely season-ending back injury. But captain Henrik Sedin is confident that they can put some fear in goaltenders again.
"I don't think we're going to go the rest of the way without scoring," Sedin told reporters.
However, he does not want the scoreless streak to continue too long.
"It's nothing we can worry about," he said. "I don't think we think too much about it. But come (Saturday's game), if we don't score for half a game, we're going to start thinking about it."
While the Sharks try to better their playoff hopes. The Canucks, marred by injuries and inconsistency and facing a possible last-overall finish, want to prove that they can still compete.
"This game is a lot more fun when you are winning," Canucks forward Brandon Sutter told reporters. "We know where we are at standings-wise. We still want to have fun with it and try to improve as a team."