Sharks, Stars trying to get back in win column
STARS (13-8-9) at SHARKS (19-7-6)
Last 10 --
Dallas 4-3-3; San Jose 5-3-2
Season series --
Only the second meeting of six for these Pacific Division rivals, with the two last meeting in San Jose on Nov. 12. The Stars rallied from a two-goal third-period deficit to force a shootout which was decided by Stephane Robidas
for a 3-2 victory. It was their first shootout win of the season on their fifth try.
Big story --
Interesting how the Stars pulled out a win a few weeks back versus the Sharks compared to the way they've lost their last couple of games. They gave up a three-goal lead to the Ducks on Tuesday, losing 4-3 in overtime. On Sunday they had a two-goal lead over Edmonton on home ice and lost that one in a shootout.
Even funnier how the Sharks did the exact same thing at home on Wednesday. Two-goal lead, the Kings tie the game in the third against the best home penalty kill in the League and take it 5-4 in overtime. No lead seems safe in the Pacific Division these days.
They came out against the Ducks with the fervor warranted by the Oilers loss, but it didn't last the full 60 minutes. Midway through the second period, the Stars were in control with two goals from Brad Richards
and a third from Mike Modano
. But things quickly deteriorated with a pair of lackluster power-play efforts that saw the momentum shift. They were outshot 21-4 down the stretch as the Ducks took over.
"I think it can be a good thing to think about it for a couple of days," captain Brenden Morrow
told the Dallas Morning News. "It's not going to sit well, and it shouldn't sit well, and we need to think about it. But on Friday, we need to come out and do something about it."
Visiting teams have a seemingly better chance of making a hole in one at Pebble Beach than scoring on the power play in HP Pavilion. At least that's how it was until the Los Angeles Kings came to town on Wednesday. They scored twice on a Sharks PK unit that had turned back 94 percent of their chances at home.
"Our penalty kill let us down," Sharks coach Todd McLellan told the San Jose Mercury News. "We're talking a lot about our power play, but our penalty kill did some uncharacteristic things tonight, trying to stretch themselves, trying to go on offense. That's not how we've done it."
Who's hot --
With an even-strength offense as high-powered as the Sharks, sometimes it's hard to stand out. If anything, forward Ryane Clowe was getting attention for his lone point in his first 10 games. He's turned that around with seven goals and 12 assists in his last 18 games. Joe Thornton hasn't scored a goal in seven games, but has 10 assists in that stretch for a League-leading 35 to go with the League lead in points with 42.
Injury report --
Sharks defenseman Doug Murray (lower body) was held out of practice Thursday after leaving Wednesday's game as a result of a collision with Dany Heatley late in the first period. He should be available to play, however. Forwards Brad Staubitz (face) and Jody Shelley (hand) have been skating with the team but return dates have not been set. … Stars defenseman Karlis Skrastins
(lacerated finger) practiced Wednesday and is probable.
Stat pack --
No matter how one crunches the numbers, it's a model of consistent inconsistency for the Stars. They haven't strung more than two wins together all season. They're 2-6-5 following a win, but are 11-2-3 after a loss, and are 7-0-1 after a regulation loss. Overtimes are the bane of Big D. With a League-leading 12 games played beyond regulation (tied with the Panthers), they are 3-9 overall, 1-6 in shootouts. This coming from a team that was 32-14 in shootouts entering this season.
As an aside, only two teams in the NHL have not lost two games in a row in regulation. These two.
Puck drop --
The Sharks' special teams issues prove that no team is perfect, but are the Stars capable of exploiting both that imperfection and a rare slump for one of the League's top teams?