A win over the San Jose Sharks last month left Dallas alone atop the Pacific Division. Now, the Stars are just hoping for a share of first place.
The struggling Stars look to extend a five-game winning streak in San Jose and move into a tie for the top spot in the Pacific when they continue their season series with the Sharks on Thursday night.
Dallas (25-18-5) is 2-2-1 against San Jose (25-13-7) this season, getting both of its wins at HP Pavilion, where it hasn't lost since a 2-0 Sharks win on Oct. 17, 2006. In the teams' last meeting, the Stars won 4-2 in San Jose on Dec. 15 to take a two-point lead over the Sharks for first place in the Pacific.
Now, however, San Jose has a two-point lead over Dallas, and the Stars fell into third place after a 4-2 loss to Anaheim on Tuesday night. Dallas is a point behind the Ducks, who visit Nashville on Thursday.
The Stars are 1-2-1 on their current road trip, which ends Thursday, and have lost seven of nine overall.
"Before you start pointing fingers, you've got to take care of what you can control," Stars captain Brenden Morrow said. "I think you look in the mirror and ask yourself what you can do to help your team. And there are a lot of people who can give a lot more right now. Sometimes we are lacking a little bit of emotion out there."
Even Dallas' usually steady penalty-killing unit is coming off a bad game. Against the Ducks, the Stars allowed two power-play goals in a game for the first time since a 6-5 overtime loss to Los Angeles on Nov. 10.
Dallas, which has stopped an NHL-best 87.8 percent (178-for-204) of its opponents' power-play opportunities, had allowed just three goals the previous 47 times it was short-handed.
"We need to start playing better and clean up some of our mistakes," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "Our goaltender needs to be the backbone of our team and clean up the mistakes in front of him."
Marty Turco is 0-1-1 with a 3.41 goals-against average in Dallas' last two games, but is 18-7-3 with one tie and a 2.20 GAA in 30 games versus San Jose.
The Sharks, meanwhile, lost Thursday night despite Evgeni Nabokov's return to net, falling 5-3 to Phoenix. After a rare night off, Nabokov allowed all five Coyotes goals while making 23 saves.
Nabokov is 0-2-0 with a 3.06 GAA in two home games against Dallas this season. He will likely be back in net Thursday, though, as San Jose tries to avoid its third straight defeat. The Sharks have dropped consecutive games for the first time since a three-game skid from Dec. 18-22.
This is the opener of a four-game homestand for San Jose, which is 9-9-4 at HP Pavilion.
"They're huge games for us before the All-Star break," said San Jose coach Ron Wilson, who will serve as a Western Conference assistant coach at the All-Star game Jan. 27.