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Devin Shore taking charge in Stars playoff push

22-year-old rookie forward emerging as leader in Dallas

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

The passion Dallas Stars rookie forward Devin Shore brings to the ice is infectious, even to 35-year-old right wing Patrick Sharp.

"I find myself hanging around him all the time because the attitude he brings is contagious," Sharp said. "Even at his age (22) and this being his first full year in the League, I look at him and see a leader."

The Stars are at a point when their leaders need to lead, no matter how young or old. Dallas, which had the best record in the Western Conference last season, is three points out of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the West with 30 games remaining. The Stars host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NHLN, FS-SW, WGN, NHL.TV).

"If you don't have a belief that we will make the playoffs, you're in trouble," Shore said. "We have a lineup that can definitely do some damage when on our game. There's a lot of hockey left to be played. We just have to make sure we're consistently giving ourselves the best chance to win, collect points."

Video: TOR@DAL: Shore scores on great effort and celebrates

Fortunately for Stars coach Lindy Ruff, Shore has been one of those players making contributions of late.

"He's got a maturity to his game on both sides of the puck, and has a willingness to hang onto it to make plays," Ruff said.

Shore was kept off the scoresheet in a 4-3 home loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, but has one goal and two assists in the past three games. He has eight points (two goals, six assists) in the past 12 games and is tied for ninth among NHL rookies with 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) in 52 games.

"It's no secret that it helps having a little consistency with linemates, but that could change," Shore said. "I'm never really satisfied or dissatisfied because you're always trying to improve, but it's important to recognize the things you do well and continue to work and build on those things."

Shore has found good chemistry playing alongside center Radek Faksa and Sharp. The trio has combined for seven points (four goals, three assists) in the Stars' past three games.

"Radek is a guy who is going to win a lot of loose puck battles and he's so responsible at both ends of the ice," Shore said. "[Sharp] is a veteran presence with speed and he likes to shoot. I want to get Sharp the puck, and get it to him with speed. I look to make sure he's getting those 'Grade A' shots because he can bury them."

Video: COL@DAL: Shore nets Korpikoski's feed in front

Sharp, who missed 26 games because of a concussion, has 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 26 games. Faksa, who missed two games with a lower-body injury, has 23 points (seven goals, 16 assists) in 50 games.

Shore is no stranger to a leadership role and producing for his team in big moments. He served as captain during his final season at the University of Maine in 2014-15, and was the captain for Dallas at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament in September.

"There are qualities that you can carry over with you from previous teams and I've been using those qualities, like having a positive attitude, offering encouragement, passion, energy, and hard work on the ice," Shore said. "I've always felt it's important to be yourself and do what works for you to help the team win."

Shore made his NHL debut against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Nov. 3, 2015. He played three games with Dallas before a shoulder injury one month later required season-ending surgery.

"[Shore] is a kid who has a passion for the game," said Derek Laxdal, coach of the Texas Stars, Dallas' affiliate in the American Hockey League. "He can play the wing or middle. He's not a guy who will run somebody, but he's hard on the puck and he competes, skates well and has a head for the game."

Video: DAL@CHI: Shore taps in the second chance in close

Shore said he's willing to embrace any role given to him if it helps improve the team.

"I want to be versatile and coachable so whatever I'm told to do, no matter how big or small, I'm willing to do it because at the highest level all that matters is winning," Shore said. "Whatever role you have is important, so you accept it and go with it."

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