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Red-hot Stars return home to host Sharks

by Dave Lozo
SHARKS (33-24-8) at STARS (36-26-5)


Last 10: San Jose 2-7-1; Dallas 7-1-2.

Season Series: This is the fourth of six meetings. The Sharks are 3-0 with all the victories coming in regulation by a combined 14-5.

Big Story: It's all about the super-tight Pacific Division and the Sharks woeful play of late. The Stars are in first place with 77 points, while the eighth-place Sharks, losers of 9 of 11, have 74 points and two games in hand.

Team Scope:

Sharks: Tuesday night's game against the Oilers seemed like a great time to right the ship. The Sharks were at home and playing a team that has long since been left out of the playoff chase.

The Sharks picked up a point, but they lost 3-2 in a shootout. San Jose has lost three straight.

"You definitely have to work your way out of slumps like this," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "We did a good job tonight. We worked hard. That's all we can do is keep working and hopefully the hockey gods will be kind to us the next few games."

Stars: Dallas extended its hot streak in a place where it had been ice cold in recent years. Mike Ribeiro scored twice Tuesday as the Stars beat the Canucks 5-2, their first win in Vancouver since Jan. 2009.

The Stars entered this big matchup with the Sharks on a 7-0-1 run.

"Keep following the game plan, stay patient and most of the time teams will break and make a mistake and that's when you can score," Ribeiro said. "Our game plan was to stay above the puck and not give those guys odd-man rushes because they have so much skills and we won battles on the boards to create odd-man rushes (the other way) and we capitalized on a few of them."

Who's Hot: Stars forward Loui Eriksson has 5 goals and 6 assists in his last 7 games.

Injury Report: Sharks forward Martin Havlat (hamstring) is getting closer to returning, but he won't be back in time for this game. … The Stars have no new injuries.

Stat Pack: The Stars' special teams have been very good during this hot streak. Their penalty killing is 23-for-24 while the power play is 3-for-18.

Puck Drop: "It would have felt better if we would have come out on the winning end, but it was nice to be back there again and feel like you're part of the team. (It) wasn't an easy night. I probably wasn't sharp enough in some areas, but I do feel better and excited about going on the road trip with the team." -- Sharks coach Todd McLellan, who returned to the team Tuesday after sitting out with a head injury suffered Feb. 26 in a game against the Wild

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