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Marleau returns to Shark Tank as member of Leafs

Patrick Marleau was the quiet and unassuming cornerstone of the San Jose Sharks for nearly two decades.

On Monday night, Marleau may feel somewhat awkward when he hits the SAP Center ice for the first time in a visitor's uniform.

Marleau looks to help the Toronto Maple Leafs pick up a rare win in northern California when they meet the Sharks in the opener of a four-game road trip.

After being selected second overall in the 1997 draft, Marleau was the face of the franchise. His stats speak for themselves and will likely result in his No. 12 being the first to be raised to the rafters in San Jose. The Saskatchewan native is the Sharks' all-time leader in goals (508), assists (574), points (1,082), power-play goals (160), short-handed goals (17) and game-winners (98).

Marleau, who turned 38 on Sept. 15, left the Bay Area for a three-year, $18.75 million deal with the Maple Leafs, who feature budding superstar Auston Matthews. It's hoped that Marleau's skill and veteran leadership is the key piece to help Toronto secure its first Stanley Cup since 1967.

"We had some really good teams (in San Jose) and still fell short and didn't win the Cup. It goes to show how hard it is to win. Everything has to align for you -- it still gives me something to strive for," he told the Toronto Sun.

Marleau is currently tied for third on the Maple Leafs with four goals and has chipped in three assists in 10 games. He recently reached a milestone by playing in his 1,500th NHL game, and is 11 points shy of 1,100 for his career. And he remains as diligent and focused as ever.

"He's a real good pro," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock told the Sun. "He works every single day, comes in takes it seriously, enjoys himself, and doesn't say very much and does it right every day. You don't play 1,500 games by accident."

Marleau has long been on the other end of the winning side in the head-to-head matchup. San Jose has won nine straight and 13 of 14 from Toronto dating back to December 2005, outscoring the Maple Leafs by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.

Since losing at home to Toronto nearly seven years ago, the Sharks have outscored the Leafs 19-4 in a four-game home winning streak in the series.

San Jose (5-5-0) returns home after capping a five-game road trip with a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.

"To get six points is huge for us but we have to be ready coming home," Sharks forward Tomas Hertl said. "We've got tough teams waiting for us."

One player who broke out of an early-season slump was Logan Couture. The 28-year-old center recorded five goals and an assist to help San Jose post a 3-2-0 record on the trip.

Couture is the Sharks' leader with eight goals and 11 points. The Guelph, Ontario, native has one assist in five career home matchups with Toronto.
Martin Jones is 6-0-0 with a 1.31 goals-against average, a .953 save percentage and two career shutouts versus the Leafs. Four of those victories and one shutout have come with the Sharks.

Toronto begins its swing looking to avoid its fourth loss in five games after falling 4-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

"We have all the confidence in the world," center Nazem Kadri told the Toronto Star after scoring twice. "We're going to lose a couple in a row here and there. But we have to get back on track."

Kadri has four goals and two assists in his last six games. Toronto is 3-0-0 on the road this season when Kadri notches a point, however, the ninth-year NHL veteran has yet to register a point and has a minus-6 rating in four career games in San Jose.

Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen is 6-4-0 this season, but sports a 3.61 GAA and .890 save percentage. He's 0-5-0 with a 3.44 GAA and .900 save percentage over five career starts at San Jose.

In his only start and appearance of the season, backup Curtis McElhinney stopped 30 shots in Toronto's 6-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 18. The 34-year-old is 0-3-0 with a 5.10 GAA and .873 save percentage in his career at San Jose. He last took the ice there on Oct. 30, 2010, with Anaheim.

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