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Sharks look to stay perfect against Stars

by Mike Battaglino /

SHARKS (6-0-0) at STARS (2-3-0)


Season series: This is the first of three meetings for the former Pacific Division rivals. The Dallas Stars won three of four games last season, including both at home.

Big story: The San Jose Sharks have dominated the NHL's early-season headlines with exceptional play (a 30-9 goal differential), a four-goal game by rookie Tomas Hertl and a serious injury to Dan Boyle that occurred Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues.

"There's been a lot that's happened around our team," coach Todd McLellan told the Sharks website Wednesday. "The goals scored, the controversy about the goals, the suspensions [to the Sharks and opponents], the injuries; a lot's happened in our first five weeks [since training camp began]. And I think that's a good thing for our team; we've been able to stay focused, we've been able to come to the rink and play for each other. But it can be taxing emotionally."

Team Scope:

Sharks: San Jose canceled practice Wednesday in the aftermath of the Boyle injury and a 6-2 win against the previously unbeaten Blues.

"It was an emotional day," McLellan said. "It was a taxing night for a lot of players, they played a lot of minutes once Dan left. Matt Pelech was out of the game, [Andrew Desjardins] was unavailable for 17 minutes, a lot of power-play and penalty-kill time, so it was a very taxing day on a lot of the players. So we thought it would be better that the players take advantage of their time here, have a quick workout, refresh, and we'll have a pregame skate [Thursday] and get ready to go again."

Forwards Pelech and Desjardins were penalized for their response to the hit on Boyle by St. Louis' Maxim Lapierre. Each of the five remaining defensemen played at least 20 minutes, with Justin Braun logging 25:22, including 2:54 on the power play and 4:38 shorthanded.

Defenseman Brad Stuart returns after serving a three-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of New York Rangers forward Rick Nash.

"He'll get a lot of playing time now and get his feet underneath him," McLellan said of Stuart, who missed the first two games of the season with a lower-body injury before playing in the game that drew the suspension.

The Sharks said Boyle was returning to San Jose on Wednesday after staying overnight in a St. Louis hospital.

Stars: Dallas gets another chance at knocking off an unbeaten team after a 3-2 road loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.

"What I see [with San Jose] is depth of scoring, three lines that create a lot and a very good power play," coach Lindy Ruff told Inside Edge on the Stars website. "They're a team, a little bit like Colorado, that has good speed up front and they are getting a little bit of creativity from that back end."

The Stars seek that depth of scoring without a goal from their third or fourth line. Jamie Benn, Alex Chiasson and Tyler Seguin have 17 points combined; the rest of the team has 16.

"We can turn the game in our direction, but we haven't been able to get the goal from our secondary guys, and that puts a lot of pressure on our top line," Ruff said.

Who's hot: The Sharks had four players (Hertl, 9; Logan Couture 9; Thornton 9; Marleau 8) in the top 10 in League scoring entering play Wednesday. Brett Burns and Joe Pavelski each have seven points. … Seguin has seven points (two goals) in his past four games.

Injury report: Boyle's injury and timetable for a return have not been announced. Forward Adam Burish (back) may have surgery. … Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen (lower body) is on injured reserve. The team website said he worked out after practice Wednesday and could return by this weekend. Dan Ellis will start in his place. Defenseman Aaron Rome (hip) is playing in the American Hockey League on a conditioning assignment.

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