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Sharks-Stars Preview

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Sharks-Stars Preview

GAME: San Jose Sharks (23-19-6) at Dallas Stars (34-15-2).

TIME: Monday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

The new shootout rule seems to working just fine for the Dallas Stars.

Dallas has won each of its last three games in a shootout and will try to extend its winning streak when it faces the San Jose Sharks.

Dallas improved to a league-best 8-0 in shootouts with a 2-1 win Saturday over the Detroit Red Wings.

"I'm confident in our shooters and I am confident in our goaltenders when it comes to the shootout," said Stars coach Dave Tippett. "We talk about confidence all the time and we're earning our confidence in shootouts right now."

Jere Lehtinen scored late in the third period Saturday to send the game into overtime. After the Stars were outshot 7-1 in the extra session, Sergei Zubov and rookie Jussi Jokinen scored in the second and third rounds of the shootout before Mike Modano won it in the first round of sudden death.

Jokinen improved to a league-best 8-for-8 in shootout attempts while goaltender Marty Turco has stopped 13 of 16 attempts this season.

Dallas has scored on 14 of 23 shootout attempts while Stars goaltenders have allowed only five of 23 to get past them.

"It was exciting. Marty has been great in shootouts and, of course, Jussi has been incredible," said Modano.

Turco made 27 saves in the win, his first in 12 career appearances against the Red Wings.

Turco has won four straight games, posting a 1.65 goals-against average in that span. He also has been dominant against San Jose with nine wins in 11 career starts, a 1.60 GAA and two shutouts.

The Sharks will try to avoid their first three-game losing streak since dropping four in a row from Dec. 22-28. San Jose lost a 6-2 decision Saturday to the Phoenix Coyotes, drawing criticism from head coach Ron Wilson.

"I hope they decide to hold themselves accountable," Wilson said. "We had a decent first period and then we made soft plays, misreads on 2-on-3 situations, and next thing you know we are down 2-0."

Sharks players held a 10-minute, players-only meeting after the game.

Jonathan Cheechoo and Nils Ekman scored the Sharks' goals and have provided much of the team's offense over the last month.

Cheechoo and Ekman both have 21 points in 14 games since Dec. 26. Cheechoo has 11 goals and 10 assists in that span. Ekman has six goals and 15 assists in 14 games after registering only eight points through his first 30 contests.

STANDINGS: Sharks - 52 points, 5th place, 18 PB, Pacific Division. Stars - 70 points, 1st place, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Sharks - Cheechoo, 27 goals; Joe Thornton, 50 assists and 67 points; Mark Smith, 65 PIM. Stars - Lehtinen, 25 goals; Modano and Zubov, 33 assists; Modano, 50 points; Steve Ott, 99 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Sharks - Power play: 16.9 percent (50 for 296), 19th in NHL. Penalty killing: 79.8 percent (189 for 237), 25th. Stars - Power play: 15.9 percent (50 for 314), 22nd. Penalty killing: 83.4 percent (262 for 314), 12th.

GOALTENDERS: Sharks - Evgeni Nabokov (13-13-5, 1 SO, 2.95 GAA); Vesa Toskala (5-5-1, 0, 3.39). Stars - Turco (26-13-2, 3, 2.52); Johan Hedberg (8-2-0, 0, 2.71).

SEASON SERIES: Stars, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 30; Stars 4-1. At Dallas, Antti Miettinen opened the scoring on a first-period penalty shot and Turco made 17 saves. Alyn McCauley scored the Sharks' only goal.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sharks - 9-14-2 on the road; Stars - 17-10-1 at home.


Associated Press
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