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Stars try to get back on track vs. Sharks

by John Kreiser

SHARKS (10-5-1) at STARS (11-7-0)

TV: CSN-California (HD); TXA-21

Last 10: San Jose 7-2-1; Dallas 5-5-0

Season Series: The Pacific Division rivals are meeting for the first of six times this season. They split six games in 2010-11, with the road team winning four times. Two of the Stars' wins came after regulation.

Big Story: Reality may be hitting the Stars, who started the season 11-3-0 but dropped their fourth in a row by losing 3-0 at Colorado on Friday. The Sharks began a weekend trip that also takes them to Colorado on Sunday, but they're coming to Texas off a solid effort in a 5-2 home win against Detroit on Thursday.

Team Scope:

Sharks: If San Jose has an Achilles heel, it's penalty-killing. Both of Detroit's goals on Thursday came on the power play, dropping the Sharks' PK percentage to a dismal 73.2.

But the penalty-killers still made the big play in the win against Detroit. Joe Pavelski's shorthanded goal with 12 seconds left in the period sent the Sharks off with a 1-1 tie at intermission, and they blew the game open with three goals in the second period.

"We didn't play well until probably that point," captain Joe Thornton said of Pavelski's goal, "and that probably changed the whole outlook on the game. We got some momentum off of that, we had a great second period, and the game was over."

Stars: Back-to-back blankings by Florida and Dallas have left new coach Glen Gulutzan concerned about his team's work ethic.

"To me, the discouraging part is we're just not winning any of our individual battles," Gulutzan said. "If you're not going to win your own 1-on-1 battles, then there's really nothing we can do. It seems like if we get a chipped puck into our end, they get on the forecheck and keep it in there for 30 seconds. We chip one in their end, we get on it, we're in there for five. You can't have it going that way all the time. Each guy's battle-level has to come up."

Who's Hot: Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic comes to Dallas off the biggest offensive game of his career, a four-point night against Detroit.

Injury Report: San Jose is healthy except for the absence of backup goaltender Antero Niittymaki (abdominal surgery), who hasn't played yet this season. … Dallas got forward Steve Ott back on Friday after he missed six games with a hip injury, but is without forward Adam Burish (broken left hand) and Alex Goligoski (broken thumb), both of whom are on IR.

Stat Pack: Dallas has been shut out in consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 8-10, 1999. … The Stars have been outscored 17-3 during their slide. … The Sharks are beginning their fourth set of back-to-back games; they were swept in the first and won both ends of the other two.

Puck Drop: The Stars got off to their hot start despite being outshot badly most of the time, and the trend has continued. Dallas has held the opposition to less than 30 shots just three times in the first 18 games. . Colorado had 45 shots on Friday, and only a 42-save performance by Kari Lehtonen kept the game close.

"Kari by far was our best player…again," Gulutzan said. "We need guys to step up their games, and we're just not getting it."

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