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Sizzing Sharks host Stars

by Mike G. Morreale /

STARS (7-4-6) at SHARKS (13-4-2)

Last 10 -- Stars (4-3-3); Sharks (8-1-1)

Season series -- This will be the first of six meetings between the clubs. The Stars hope to have a little more success this season after going 1-5-0 in 2008-09, marking the first time Dallas lost a season series to the Sharks in eight seasons.

Big story -- San Jose puts its 6-0-1 home record on the line against a Stars team that has picked up points in seven of nine games (4-2-3) on the road. The Sharks are 8-0-1 in their last nine games and 10-1-1 since the middle of last month

"We've been playing well on the road," Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas told "It's just a matter of playing without pressure. We just work hard and are more defensive when we're on the road. Maybe at home we're trying to put on a show a little more, and I think that's why we've had success on the road."

Team Scope

Stars -- Left wing James Neal leads the Stars with 9 goals and is second with 17 points. Out with a groin injury the past two games, Neal will likely join linemates Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson against the Sharks. The big story in Dallas this week was the induction of Brett Hull, who played in Dallas for three seasons, into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday. The Stars will recognize Hull's achievement Nov. 25 before a game against the St. Louis Blues at AmericanAirlinesCenter.

Sharks -- The Sharks, behind the strong play of goalie Evgeni Nabokov, have allowed just 10 non-shootout goals in their last eight games. Nabokov made 27 saves on Saturday to earn his 49th career shutout -- 5-0 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. He got the night off on Tuesday, and rookie Thomas Greiss stopped 23 shots in a 4-3 win over Nashville that saw Dan Boyle get the game-winner with 60 seconds remaining.

Who's hot -- In addition to Nabokov (11-3-2, 2.14 GAA, .925 save percentage), San Jose wing Patrick Marleau is off to the best start of his career with 11 goals and 23 points in 19 games. Sharks center Scott Nichol ranks second in the League with a 64.3 faceoff winning percentage.

Injury report -- Neal has missed two games with a groin injury but is expected to return against the Sharks. San Jose defender Rob Blake is out for a couple of weeks with a shoulder injury, forward Jody Shelley (soreness) is day-to-day and center Torrey Mitchell (tendinitis in left knee) was assigned to AHL Worcester for a conditioning assignment.

Stat pack -- Nabokov went 4-0 against the Stars last season with a 1.25 goals-against average and .955 save percentage. Dallas goalie Marty Turco finished 1-5 with a 2.67 GAA and .899 save percentage against the Sharks.

Puck drop -- The Sharks are making life miserable on home ice for the opposition this season, much like they did in 2008-09 when they went 32-5-4 at the Shark Tank. But the Stars enter the contest having scored 10 more goals on the road than at home in just one less game.

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