SAN JOSE -- The Sharks will have Antti Niemi in goal for their Thursday night showdown with the Anaheim Ducks.

And although first place in the Pacific Division is on the line, San Jose coach Todd McLellan tried to keep the game in perspective.

"We have 24 points that are still available to us and I think they have 26," he said, referring to the games left in the regular season. "That's a lot of points. There's a lot of hockey left from this point on. Perhaps if we're in this same situation late April when we play in their building, there'd be a lot more to suggest this is a must-win game. It isn't for either team."

Then he added: "It would be nice to win it, certainly from our perspective to move ahead and create that two point cushion. But it's not the be-all and end-all by any means."

Anaheim has occupied the top spot in the Pacific since early January and at one point they were 13 points ahead of the Sharks. The Ducks have wobbled at 4-3-2 since the Olympic break, however, and the Sharks -- going 9-2-1 over that same stretch -- have caught them with each team having 97 points.

The Ducks will start backup Frederik Anderson in goal. Anaheim also announced that Nick Bonino would miss the game with an injured foot and Matt Beleskey is ill and won't play. The team called up Emerson Etem and Rickard Rakell from the minors.

The Sharks indicated earlier that Raffi Torres will miss a sixth game with general soreness.

For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/PollakOnSharks.