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Ribeiro, Robidas have Sharks number

by Steve Hunt
DALLAS -- So far this season, the Dallas Stars are 3-0-1 against the San Jose Sharks. Two big reasons for that success against their Pacific Division rival are center Mike Ribeiro, who has 3 goals and an assist against the Sharks, and defenseman Stephane Robidas, who has 5 assists against them in those four games.

Tuesday, the Stars host San Jose at the American Airlines Center and Dallas coach Marc Crawford hopes for similar showings from both players.

"They're good players. The fact they've had success against any particular team I don't think is much more than coincidence," Crawford said. "They've had success against lots of different teams. The hope is, and the desire is, that we find a way to be successful again tonight."

For his career, Robidas has 16 points in 49 games against the Sharks and is a plus-10. But when asked to explain his current success against them, he admits to being at somewhat of a loss to explain it.

"I don't know. I didn't know about it (before someone told me)," said Robidas. "I just know playing these guys is a tough battle. You have to be ready. That's a good team out there."

Robidas has been with the Stars for most of the last eight seasons, so he's had plenty of battles with the Sharks, a team he considers one of his club's fiercest rivals.

"Yeah, for sure they're a rival," he said. "The intensity of the game every time we play them is high. They feel like playoff games every time we play them. I just like the animosity between the two teams."

As for Ribeiro, the veteran center has 29 points and a plus-9 rating in 37 games against San Jose. This season, he scored in overtime to give the Stars a 5-4 win against the Sharks on Nov. 18 in Dallas.

The 31-year-old admits he especially likes facing San Jose.

"I scored my first goal against those guys this year, too," he said. "Every time we play those guys, they're always good games. They're always games you want to enjoy, especially now this time since they're so close to us. There is always a team in the League that you play better and feel better (against). This year it's the Sharks. Last year it could've been Phoenix. It depends on the year. I just like to play those games, especially tonight, a game that means a lot."

If form holds, it should be another tight game. Their four previous meetings have been one-goal affairs, with two going to overtime and one to a shootout.

No matter how this one plays out, Dallas expects a battle, especially considering the Sharks arrived in town fresh off a 6-3 loss in Chicago on Monday.

"This will be a hard-fought game. They got beat last night," Crawford said. "We'll get their full attention tonight. We're expecting a very spirited game from San Jose and they should expect the same from us."

And those are sentiments echoed by the Stars' top defenseman.

"We know exactly how they're going to respond. They lost a big game last night in Chicago and we know they're going to be ready and will come out hard. We know we have to match that," Robidas said.
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