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Preview: Sharks at Stars

San Jose trying to end four-game losing streak, build division lead; Jason Spezza questionable for Dallas

by Sean Shapiro / NHL.com Correspondent

SHARKS (42-24-7) at STARS (29-33-11)

8:30 p.m. ET; CSN-CA, FS-SW, NHL.TV

 

Sharks team scope

The San Jose Sharks' lead in the Pacific Division has shrunk to two points ahead of the Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers. The Ducks play the Winnipeg Jets at home Friday but the Sharks hold the regulation/overtime wins (ROW) tiebreaker 40-36. The Sharks are in the midst of a season-long four-game losing streak (0-4-0) and have struggled offensively with four goals in those four games. "I think the most important thing for us right now is to get four lines going," forward Joonas Donskoi said. "Get goals, [draw] penalties from all four lines." Right wing Jannik Hansen said he'll play Friday after missing the past two games because of an upper-body injury. Hansen has played six games with the Sharks since they acquired him in a trade from the Vancouver Canucks on March 1 and still is getting acclimated to the team. "Every day you get a little more integrated," he said. "When you're on the road you bond together a little bit more. You go have dinner and get to know guys in different ways." Coach Peter DeBoer said center Melker Karlsson will be a game-time decision, but Karlsson skated late after practice with the other expected scratches. Aaron Dell will start in goal with Martin Jones expected to play at the Nashville Predators on Saturday. Dell made 19 saves in a 1-0 loss to the Dallas Stars on Monday. 

 

Stars team scope

Forward Jason Spezza is doubtful after not playing in a 3-2 shootout loss at the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday because of back spasms. Coach Lindy Ruff typically juggles his defense pairings after a loss, so defenseman Stephen Johns could return to the lineup after being scratched the past two games. Goaltender Kari Lehtonen has started the past four games, but after making 24 saves Thursday, Antti Niemi could get his first start since March 14. Forward Ales Hemsky scored two goals Thursday and has five points (three goals, two assists) in 10 games since returning from a hip injury that had kept him out since Oct. 22. "I thought he put together a nice game for us," Ruff said Thursday. "He's skating well. Every game for me he seems to be getting better. And it's a lot of time off. We've seen it with other players. It's hard to come back and get in a groove right away."

 

Sharks projected lineup

Jannik Hansen -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau -- Logan Couture -- Joel Ward

Joonas Donskoi -- Tomas Hertl -- Mikkel Boedker

Micheal Haley -- Chris Tierney -- Marcus Sorensen

Paul Martin -- Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon -- David Schlemko

Aaron Dell

Martin Jones

Scratched: Timo Meier, Dylan DeMelo

Injured: Melker Karlsson (lower body)

 

Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn -- Cody Eakin -- Ales Hemsky

Remi Elie -- Tyler Seguin -- Brett Ritchie

Devin Shore -- Radek Faksa -- Patrick Sharp

Curtis McKenzie -- Adam Cracknell -- Jiri Hudler

Esa Lindell -- John Klingberg

Dan Hamhuis -- Greg Pateryn

Patrik Nemeth -- Jamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Scratched: Stephen Johns

Injured: Mattias Janmark (knee), Antoine Roussel (hand), Jason Spezza (back spasms)

 

Status report

The Sharks had an optional morning skate. Forwad Danny O'Regan was sent to San Jose of the American Hockey League. ... The Stars did not have a morning skate after playing Thursday. … 

 

Who's hot

Pavelski has nine points (seven goals, two assists) in his past nine games. Thornton has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in his past nine games.

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