If one of the marks of a good team is their road play, then the San Jose Sharks have every reason to feel good about their prospects this season.
The Sharks seek their fourth straight road victory Wednesday night when they take on the Pacific Division-leading Dallas Stars for the fourth time this season.
While the Sharks' 4-5-3 home record is a cause for concern, their 9-3-2 road mark is the league's best. They are 5-0-1 in their last six away from home, outscoring opponents 21-10 during that span.
San Jose's road success continued Monday with a 3-2 victory over Colorado as Mike Grier scored with 11:30 remaining and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 33 shots. Steve Bernier and Milan Michalek also scored for the Sharks (13-8-4), who beat the Avalanche for the second time in four nights.
"My defense played well in front of me," said Nabokov, who has started all 25 of San Jose's games this year. "They blocked a lot of shots in front of me and let me see the shots they got through."
Joe Thornton had two assists Monday, giving him three goals and four assists in his last three games. He has two goals and eight assists during a seven-game road point streak.
Thornton and Nabokov have had to be very good lately because several of San Jose's top offensive players are struggling.
Captain Patrick Marleau and rookie Devin Setoguchi have no points in five games while right wing Jonathan Cheechoo - a 56-goal scorer in 2005-06 - has gone 11 games without finding the back of the net.
Some of those players need to start producing if the Sharks are to make a run at their first division title since 2003-04. While Thornton leads the team with 31 points, 37-year-old Jeremy Roenick is second with only 13.
Setoguchi has three goals in his first three games against Dallas
Niklas Hagman scored in the fifth round of the shootout Monday at Columbus, lifting Dallas to a 2-1 victory in the finale of a season-high six-game road trip. It was Hagman's team-leading fifth game-winning goal this season, tying him with Roenick for the league lead.
Marty Turco made 25 saves for his fourth win in five starts. He is 17-6-3 with one tie and a 2.17 goals-against average in 28 career games against San Jose.
Dallas went 4-2-0 on the trip, and is 8-2-2 in its last 12 overall.
"It was a solid road trip, we went out and played very solid in probably five of the six games," Stars coach Dave Tippett told the team's official Web site. "Six games in nine nights is a lot more tough than people think it is, and in our games we competed very hard right till the end last night right to overtime."
The Stars (15-9-4) could get rugged defenseman Mattias Norstrom back Wednesday. Norstrom has been sidelined since Nov. 7 with a fractured orbital bone.
The return of the veteran Norstrom couldn't come at a better time for Dallas, which lost defenseman Philippe Boucher for at least four weeks because of shoulder surgery Wednesday.
Boucher played in every game this season, with one goal and 10 assists. The Stars, who didn't say how Boucher was injured, recalled Junior Lessard from its Iowa affiliate to fill his spot in the lineup.
Dallas has outscored opponents 14-3 during a four-game home win streak, but has lost three straight there to the Sharks.
San Jose has won two of three meetings this season against the Stars, including both road matchups.
|Apr 06 '08||SJS 2 at DAL 4||M. Norstrom|
|Mar 27 '08||DAL 2 at SJS 3 - OT||J. Thornton|
|Jan 17 '08||DAL 4 at SJS 2||M. Modano|
|Dec 15 '07||DAL 4 at SJS 2||A. Miettinen|
|Dec 05 '07||SJS 3 at DAL 2||J. Thornton|
|Nov 14 '07||SJS 4 at DAL 3 - SO||D. Setoguchi|
|Nov 07 '07||DAL 3 at SJS 1||M. Modano|
|Oct 29 '07||SJS 4 at DAL 2||D. Setoguchi|