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Stars In For Playoff Rematch

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
Things are going so well for the San Jose Sharks that even with the NHL's top goaltender injured, they're able to replace him with one who has shutouts in his only two starts this season.

The streaking Sharks - 8-0-0 at home - will look for their seventh straight victory overall on Saturday night when they open their season series with the Dallas Stars, the team that eliminated them from last season's playoffs.

San Jose (12-2-0) kept its winning streak and unblemished home mark alive on Thursday. Ryane Clowe's second goal of the game tied it with less than two minutes left in regulation, and he scored in the shootout to help clinch a 5-4 win over St. Louis.

The Sharks outshot the Blues 43-29, putting at least 40 shots on goal for the seventh time this season. San Jose leads the league in that category (37.6).

"They are such a fast team that you have to be on your toes the whole game," Blues forward David Backes said. "Against the (Joe) Thornton unit, they are such tough guys, and they can turn it up so quick. They were shooting pucks from everywhere."

The bad news for San Jose involved Evgeni Nabokov, who sustained an unspecified lower-body injury on the final shot of the shootout.

The 2007-08 Vezina trophy finalist is 10-2-0 with a 2.72 goals-against average, and hasn't been ruled out for this game, but backup Brian Boucher likely will start.

The Sharks aren't likely to be troubled by that possibility. Boucher has allowed two total goals in five starts since signing with San Jose in February, going 5-0-0 with a 0.40 GAA and three shutouts as a starter.

The journeyman has turned aside all 43 shots he's faced this season in victories over Los Angeles and Tampa Bay.

"It's been going well so far, but it's only been two games," Boucher told his team's official Web site.

Not much had been going well for Dallas' goalies this season, but despite coming in with a 4.34 GAA and allowing 11 goals in his previous two starts, Marty Turco made 28 saves in a 5-2 win at Anaheim on Friday.

It was also only the second time Turco held an opponent to two or fewer goals this season - something he's done 19 times in 32 career starts against the Sharks. He's 20-7-4 with a tie and a 2.21 career GAA in the regular season against San Jose.

Turco gave up just 11 goals in six games as Dallas beat the Sharks 4-2 in the Western Conference semifinals last season before falling to eventual Stanley Cup champion Detroit.

But the Stars have gotten off to a slow start in 2008-09 thanks in part to their porous defense. Their 52 goals allowed are the most in the West.

They hope Friday's victory can send them on the right track, but Dallas hasn't yet won back-to-back games this season.

"It's a step in the right direction, but we still have a lot of work to do," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "There were some positives we can grab on to but there are still lot of parts of our game we have to clean up."

Mark Parrish, playing his first game with the Stars (5-6-2) after signing with the team this week, scored three goals for his first hat trick since December 2006.

"I was hoping to get off to a good start, but I certainly wasn't expecting that," said Parrish, who has two goals in 11 games at the Shark Tank.

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