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Stars head to San Jose after big win over Ducks

by Brian Compton /
STARS (26-21-2) at SHARKS (28-14-6)


Last 10: Dallas 4-5-1; San Jose 5-3-2

Season Series: This is the third of six meetings between the Pacific Division rivals. San Jose has outscored Dallas by a 9-3 margin in two victories against the Stars this season.

Big Story: Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan fulfilled a lifelong dream Wednesday when he practiced with the Sharks, his hometown club.

Morgan spent most of his childhood in San Jose, where he played youth hockey and was good enough to earn a roster spot for one season as a teenager with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League.

"To be out there to skate with my childhood team, and just to be out there with the boys, was an unbelievable feeling," Morgan said.

Morgan played seven games for Regina in the 1999-2000 season, scoring two goals and logging 20 penalty minutes. Before that, he had played for some lower-level junior hockey teams in Canada.

"He's actually a pretty good skater, believe it or not," Sharks captain Joe Thornton told "He took a couple of strong strides. Him being an outfielder, I think he can get around pretty good. I'm not sure how sturdy he is on his skates, though. A guy like Dougie Murray, we'll see if he can hit him. We'll see how that part of his game goes. Pretty good, though. I'd give him a B-plus to be honest with you. I was impressed with how good he was."

Team Scope:

Stars: Jamie Benn returned from a five-game absence Wednesday night and had a goal and two assists to lead Dallas to an impressive 6-2 win at Anaheim. The Stars have only won twice since Jan. 12, with both of those victories coming against the Ducks.

"We didn't expect that kind of game tonight," defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "We just wanted to play hard and keep things simple. We've had trouble scoring goals lately. We got our guys back in the lineup. We're more healthy. A lot of our goals were just rebounds. It wasn’t like all tic-tac-toes."

Sharks: Not only is San Jose seeking its third straight win, but the Sharks haven't allowed a goal since a 2-1 shootout loss at Edmonton on Jan. 23. The Sharks followed up that setback with a 1-0 win at Calgary and then waxed the Columbus Blue Jackets in 6-0 victory at HP Pavilion on Tuesday night.

Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi notched his second straight and fourth overall shutout, stopping all 30 shots he faced.

Thornton enjoyed his second multigoal game of the season and ended a 10-game drought. The Sharks scored as many goals as they had in their previous four games combined.

"We've been working to score some goals," Thornton said. "Hopefully we can get some confidence from this."

Who's Hot: Stars forward Eric Nystrom has a pair of goals over the last three games and now has 15 on the season. … Sharks winger Logan Couture has 3 goals and 3 assists in his last four games, while Niemi has stopped all 55 shots he's faced over the last two contests.

Injury Report: Stars defenseman Nicklas Grossman missed Wednesday night's game due to the flu. … Sharks forward Ryane Clowe has missed six straight games due to facial injuries, but could play Thursday. Defenseman Jason Demers also missed Tuesday's game with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. Tommy Wingels (upper body) and Martin Havlat (hamstring) are out.

Stat Pack: Thornton also had an assist Tuesday night -- his 726th career helper -- putting him into a tie for 46th place with Luc Robitaille on the NHL's all-time assist list.

Puck Drop: "You can see, even prior to the break, the way we were scoring and now you can see some guys realizing that, 'Hey, maybe I can a couple like that, too.' It gets contagious, and I thought it did a little bit tonight." -- Stars coach Glen Gulutzan on Wednesday's 6-2 win at Anaheim
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