The San Jose Sharks are getting balanced scoring, excellent goaltending and now are injury-free. All that has contributed to a season-high five-game win streak and one of the league's best records.
The Sharks look to complete a perfect four-game road trip when they face the Dallas Stars for the second time this season on Monday.
San Jose (20-7-0) began this trip on Tuesday with its second straight shutout, 2-0 over St. Louis, then beat Minnesota 2-1 one night later before rallying for a 3-2 victory over Detroit on Saturday as rookie Joe Pavelski scored with 5.9 seconds left in regulation.
The Sharks' only overtime game this season came in a season-opening 3-2 victory over Colorado.
"When we scored ... Joe Thornton said, 'We don't do overtime!"', San Jose coach Ron Wilson recalled. "I said, 'Thank God we don't do overtime.' We were getting ready for the overtime."
Mark Bell and Patrick Marleau also had goals for the Sharks, who have outscored opponents 15-6 during the five-game streak. San Jose owns the league's third-best record, but has the misfortune of residing in the same division as Anaheim, which owns the NHL's best mark.
Wilson has alternated goaltenders Evgeni Nabokov and Vesa Toskala all season, and that system has produced a league-best 2.15 goals-against average. Toskala has allowed six goals during a personal four-game win streak, while Nabokov has surrendered one goal in winning his past two games.
Right wing Jonathan Cheechoo returned to San Jose's lineup Saturday after missing six games with a leg injury.
Cheechoo, the NHL leader last season with 56 goals, didn't record a point, but came up with a key defensive play. He denied Henrik Zetterberg's wraparound attempt with less than five minutes left that would've extended Detroit's lead to 3-1.
"I'd seen him come around. I just tried to square up to it," Cheechoo said. "It hit me and I just batted it away. I know he likes that move where he fakes everybody and comes around."
Dallas (17-9-0) returned home Saturday and snapped a season-high three-game losing streak with a 4-3 shootout win over Minnesota.
Jussi Jokinen scored the tying goal with 4:17 left in regulation and had one of the Stars' three shootout goals. Dallas won its fourth straight at home and improved to 9-2-0 there this season.
"It's important for us to get wins at home, especially after losing the lead," Jokinen said. "These two points are big for us."
Marty Turco improved to 10-1 in his career in shootouts, and the Stars have won 14 of 15 shootouts over the past two seasons.
"We feel pretty confident in the shootout," Turco said. "For me letting one of two in and winning is pretty amazing. But just getting to the shootout is the most important part."
Dallas was without captain Brenden Morrow for the fourth straight game Saturday due to a groin injury, and he isn't likely to play Monday.
"It will take a miracle for me to play Monday," Morrow told the Dallas Morning News. "I hope to be back at some point this week."
Nabokov stopped 32 shots in San Jose's 2-0 home win over Dallas on Oct. 17. The Sharks have four wins and a shootout loss in the last five meetings in the series.
|Mar 04 '07||SJS 4 at DAL 0||C. Brown|
|Feb 18 '07||SJS 2 at DAL 5||J. Lehtinen|
|Feb 01 '07||DAL 4 at SJS 2||J. Lehtinen|
|Jan 30 '07||DAL 3 at SJS 2 - SO||M. Ribeiro|
|Dec 31 '06||SJS 4 at DAL 2||P. Marleau|
|Dec 21 '06||DAL 3 at SJS 0||J. Halpern|
|Dec 04 '06||SJS 0 at DAL 1||M. Modano|
|Oct 17 '06||DAL 0 at SJS 2||M. Michalek|