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Stars need win to keep playoff hopes alive

by Dan Rosen /

STARS (22-19-4) at SHARKS (24-14-7)


Last 10: Dallas 6-3-1; San Jose 6-3-1

Season series: The Stars will be looking for the season-series sweep Tuesday. They are 3-0 against the Sharks this season, including a pair of wins this month.

Big story: Despite being in 10th place, the Stars are in control of their own playoff fate because they still play the two teams they're chasing, the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets. However, it's also possible those games against the Red Wings and Blue Jackets could mean very little or nothing at all if the Stars don't beat the Sharks on Tuesday.

The Sharks could have a playoff spot clinched based on the outcome of games Monday, or if a win against Dallas will do the trick. The Sharks clinch if the Phoenix Coyotes beat the Red Wings in regulation on Monday.

Team Scope:

Stars: The Stars have hit a rough patch at a bad time, going 1-2-1 in their past four games. Had they beaten the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday they would be in ninth place, two points behind the eighth-place Blue Jackets with a game in hand.

However, Jeff Carter scored in overtime so the Stars couldn't pick up the extra point, leaving them in 10th place, three points behind the Blue Jackets.

"We battled to get one point and then kind of let it slip right there, but we've just got to move on," Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski said. "If we win these next three, we feel like we have a pretty good shot."

Actually, if the Stars win their next three in regulation, they are sure to clinch a playoff berth.

Sharks: The Sharks have lost two games in regulation on home ice, but one of them came Sunday, when the Blue Jackets capitalized on Joe Pavelski's turnover and got a late goal from Ryan Johansen to pick up a 4-3 victory that snapped San Jose's three-game winning streak.

"You never want to make a play like that at the end," Pavelski said of his turnover. "You understand where you are in the game and you understand these things do happen once in a while. It's tough when they do, but we have to move on and get better from this and I have to try to execute better next time."

Despite the loss, the Sharks are 11-3-1 over their past 15 games and still have a shot at earning home-ice advantage in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. They're currently fifth, two points behind the Los Angeles Kings, who play in Minnesota on Tuesday.

"I listen to coaches stand in this spot after every game around the League and they're trying to get their teams playing the right way heading in [to the playoffs]," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We've got that going. We can't let that slip."

Who's hot: For the Stars, Ray Whitney has 11 points in the past eight games and Antoine Roussel has goals in back-to-back games. ... Sharks forward Martin Havlat has three goals and an assist in the past two games, Pavelski has goals in back-to-back games and Logan Couture has five points in the past two games, including a four-point effort last Thursday against Minnesota.

Injury report: Stars forwards Alex Chiasson (shoulder) and Lane MacDermid (upper body) have missed time recently. … The Sharks appear healthy.

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