STARS (42-31-5) at SHARKS (39-29-10)
TV: FS-Southwest (HD); CSN-California (HD)
Last 10: Dallas 5-5-0; San Jose 5-4-1
Season Series: The Pacific Division rivals are meeting for the fifth time this season -- they'll face each other again in Dallas on Tuesday. San Jose won the first three games and lost the fourth one 4-3 in a shootout at Dallas on March 8.
Big Story: Both teams are desperate for points as they begin a home-and-home series. The Stars are ending a grueling four-game trip and come to San Jose after losing 5-2 in Vancouver on Friday. The Sharks had the day off after losing 2-0 at Phoenix on Thursday, dropping them outside the top eight in the West.
Stars: Dallas entered Friday in third place in the West and left Vancouver in seventh after the Canucks withstood an early barrage by the Stars. Combined with the Kings' win at Edmonton, the Stars are a point behind L.A., even with Phoenix and one on front of the Sharks.
"It puts a little bit more pressure on this one," captain Brenden Morrow said of Saturday's game. "They only get bigger after that. It puts more pressure on these next games. As hard as it is after a 5-2 loss you have to try and find something positive because we're going right back at it. You have to slap yourself in the butt a little bit and then park it and get ready for that next game in less than 24 hours."
Sharks: So what does a coach do entering his team's biggest game of the season after being shut out the night before? In the case of San Jose's Todd McLellan, it's time for a day off.
"Fourteen game in 24 days," was the coach's succinct response when asked by the San Jose Mercury News' David Pollak why he changed his off-day plan. Actually, Saturday's game is the Sharks' 17th in the 31 days of March; they get two days off after this one.
Who's Hot: Michael Ryder leads the Stars with 35 goals and has five points in his last four games. His center, Mike Ribeiro, also has five points in four games. … Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi has allowed just nine goals in his last five starts. He's 4-0-1 with a 1.77 goals-against average in his last five starts against Dallas.
Stat Pack: Despite the loss in Vancouver, the Stars finished with a 14-6-0 mark against Northwest Division teams. The last time they won that many games against the Northwest was in 2006-07. Dallas also finished 11-4-1 against Canadian-based teams.
Puck Drop: Though the score might not indicate it, the Stars dominated play against the Canucks for long stretches but were foiled by goaltender Cory Schneider, who made a handful of highlight-reel saves before his offense began to click.
"We had chances, but Schneider was real good and made big saves on us," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "You run into that every now and then. Goalies win you games, and our goalie's won us enough this year. I thought it was a pretty equal game, but Schneider stood the test."