GAME: San Jose Sharks (24-12-11-4) at Dallas Stars (24-20-9-0).
TIME: Friday, 8:30 p.m. EST.
The Dallas Stars may not be ready to give up their Pacific Division title
Dallas looks to close the gap on the first-place San Jose Sharks when the
teams meet for the third time this season.
Early this season, the Stars were one of the league's most disappointing
teams, struggling to get above .500 and seemingly in danger of missing the
Dallas hit bottom with a five-game losing streak in early December, but has
since lost just five of 24 games (13-5-6-0) and is unbeaten in its last four
(3-0-1). The resurgence has pulled the Stars within six points of first-place
San Jose - arguably the league's biggest surprise.
In what may have been their most impressive victory of the season, the Stars
scored four third-period goals against one of the league's best defensive teams
Wednesday in a 5-3 win over visiting Ottawa.
Mike Modano and Pierre Turgeon scored goals in a 65-second span early in the
third period and Sergei Zubov snapped a tie with 3:07 left in regulation.
"If that game goes like it does the first two months, we're done," Stars
forward Scott Young said. "We wouldn't have been able to come back in the
third period then. That tells you the strides we've taken. We're not out of a
game anymore. This is a different team."
Marty Turco is expected to make his 14th straight start in net for Dallas.
He is 5-0-0 with a 1.20 goals-against average in six career appearances against
While the Stars are looking more like a team that has won a division title
in six of the past seven years, the Sharks are showing no signs of slowing
San Jose won for the sixth time in seven games Wednesday, 4-1 over visiting
Patrick Marleau scored two goals on assists by Marco Sturm, and Evgeni
Nabokov stopped 18 shots as the Sharks improved to 14-3-1-1 in their last 19.
San Jose coach Ron Wilson knows his team will be tested with its next two
games on the road against Dallas and Nashville.
"You want to make sure, when you're facing the two teams we'll be against,
and it's back-to-back as well as three games in four nights, that you don't let
your home points slip away," Wilson said. "If you don't come up big tonight,
you're looking quickly at what could be three losses in a row and a bad
San Jose's goaltending tandem of Nabokov and Vesa Toskala is one of the main
reasons for the team's success. The two have combined for a 2.01 GAA - second
in the NHL behind New Jersey.