On Saturday night, the San Jose Sharks
dispatched the Dallas Sharks at HP Pavilion, blanking them 3-0, a game where Dallas was clearly feeling the effects of being on the second night of a back-to-back.
These Pacific Division rivals meet for a sixth and final time this regular season on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center, and while Sharks coach Todd McLellan
would like to see an effort from his club similar to what they delivered just three days ago in the Bay Area, he also knows they will see a different Stars team this time around.
"I think we'll see a better effort on their behalf," McLellan said. "They won't be playing back-to-back. They won't be at the back end of a four-game road trip. They've had two days off. Think they'll get some healthy people back into the lineup. That should just make us elevate our game a little bit more as well.
"I liked our game in San Jose. I liked a lot of the things that we did. We have to take it to another level now in this building and be fully prepared to play."
San Jose (40-29-10, 90 points) has taken four of five meetings from Dallas this season, with the lone exception being a 4-3 shootout loss during its last trip to the Lone Star State back on March 8.
And there's no escaping that the Sharks seem to be one team the Stars have more than a little trouble matching up with on the ice.
"It's just those types of games where they've got players who get under your skin and I think they fire us up," San Jose center Logan Couture
said. "I think we rise to the occasion. They're obviously a good team. We enjoy playing against them."
The Sharks currently sit eighth in the Western Conference standings with 90 points, just one point ahead of the Stars, who are currently ninth with 89. The Avalanche are one point behind Dallas in 10th with 88 points, which makes Tuesday's game even more crucial.
"We're sitting in eighth place and it's going to be a battle down to the end. Treat this like a playoff game, so it's a big one tonight," Couture said.
Of course, it might sound cliché to say treating their final three games all like playoff games is an absolute no-brainer, but that's exactly how San Jose is treating the final week of the regular season.
"We've passed the first test. If we're looking at a four-game series to finish the year to get into the playoffs, we've passed the first test with some pretty good results," McLellan said. "Now we're out on the road. We'll find out a little bit about ourselves tonight here in a hostile environment with some pressure that's put on us based on where we are in the standings."
San Jose is now almost completely healthy. Defenseman Douglas Murray
, who has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury, did skate on Tuesday morning, but according to McLellan is a game-time decision.