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On night of reunion, Stars have eye on seventh straight win

Pavelski set for first game back in San Jose, where it will be an emotional return for the former Sharks captain

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer
Stars (26-14-4) vs. Sharks (20-22-4)

9:30 p.m., SAP Center

TV: FOX Sports Southwest PLUS; ESPN+

Radio: The Ticket 1310-AM, 96.7-FM


SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Joe Pavelski is one of the all-time greats in the history of a very familial franchise here in San Jose, and his first game back against the Sharks will definitely be emotional. But the Stars have a bit of an advantage in that they went through a similar situation in Anaheim on Thursday.

Corey Perry and Andrew Cogliano were honored by the Ducks for their service to that organization, and while Perry was serving a five-game suspension, Cogliano clearly had a reaction to the return as he stepped into the arena for the first time as a visitor.

"We saw Cogs the other night in Anaheim, and he was a little nervous. It's a little bit of distraction, there are a lot of extracurricular things to take your mind off the game," Stars coach Rick Bowness said.

Video: Pavelski reflects on time in San Jose

Bowness said he expects Pavelski to overcome all of the old memories, but both the coach and Cogliano said it is a challenge.

"It was a little difficult at first, just different emotions going on, just being on the visitor's side is different in general," Cogliano said. "I'm sure he's feeling a lot of different things today, but he's a professional and he knows we're here to win."

Pavelski played 13 seasons in San Jose, much of it with Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, and Marleau will be playing in his 1,700th regular season game Saturday. What's more, Pavelski had an intense playoff run last season, receiving a concussion in a Game 7 win over Vegas, missing the first six games against Colorado in the second round, and then returning to tally a goal and assist in a Game 7 win over the Avalanche.

Video: DAL@SJS: Cogliano discusses Stars winning streak

"One moment I'll not forget for a long time is coming back in Game 7 (against Colorado) and scoring a goal," Pavelski said. "That was a pretty awesome feeling when I stepped out there for warm-up, and to score that goal and win that game was pretty special for me. Just with the head injury, you never know, and I was thankful to be back and feeling good."

Pavelski will have a lot of love on both sides of the bench on Saturday.

"He should enjoy it," Cogliano said. "This is special place for him. It's been a phenomenal place for him and his family for a long time, and I hope it's a good night for him and for us."


What to watch

Anton Khudobin will get the start in goal. That's not big news really. Khudobin ranks second in the NHL in goals against average at 2.13 and second in save percentage at .933. He's won his past five decisions and is 11-5-1 on the season.

But the Stars also have a Vezina finalist in Ben Bishop, who is coming off a 27-save shutout on Thursday where he had a nice assist on a key goal from Alexander Radulov in a 3-0 win over Anaheim.

"Right now, there is no wrong answer," Bowness said. "They're both playing exceptionally well, and they both deserve to play. You've got Bish coming off of a shutout and a great play on the second goal, and we're going back to Dobby because he played great in LA. They both deserve to play right now, and when they're on a roll like they both are, it's important that they both play so no one's sitting."

In his career against San Jose, Khudobin is 5-2-0 with a 1.57 GAA and .950 save percentage.

Video: DAL@SJS: Bowness praises Stars goaltending situation


Lineup updates

No changes for the Stars other than Khudobin in for Bishop.

Rookie Joel Kiviranta will play his fourth consecutive game, while Justin Dowling will be scratched for the seventh straight game. Bowness said he likes the fact Kiviranta is a natural winger subbing in for the suspended Corey Perry, who is a natural winger. Dowling is a natural center.

John Klingberg (lower body) skated in the morning, but is not ready to return, so the defense will stay the same. Roman Polak has been playing on the top pair with Esa Lindell and has seen his minutes increase about two a game to around 19:00 a game while Klingberg has been out.


By the numbers

In 21 career games against the Sharks, defenseman Andrej Sekera has 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists). He is plus-15 in that span.



San Jose ranks first in the NHL in penalty killing at 88.7 percent. That's impressive when you consider the team ranks 25th overall in GAA at 3.28 and 28th overall in save percentage at .891.



That is the franchise record for consecutive wins for Minnesota/Dallas. It has been hit five times, the most recent was earlier this season. If the Stars win tonight, they will tie the record again.

He said it

"I think consistency has been key for us. I think guys are appreciating how tough the league is and how you have to be consistent and ready on a nightly basis. I think older guys can help younger guys see that, and younger guys can help with the energy. You get a little bit of both, and then you have some success, and then you start winning and feeling good about yourself, and you want to continue that."

-- Cogliano on how the Stars have won six games in a row


Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov

Denis Gurianov - Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski

Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau

Mattias Janmark - Jason Dickinson - Joel Kiviranta

Esa Lindell - Roman Polak

Jamie Oleksiak - Miro Heiskanen

Andrej Sekera - Taylor Fedun

Anton Khudobin

Ben Bishop

Scratched: C Justin Dowling

Injured: D John Klingberg (lower body), D Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches), C Martin Hanzal (back)

Suspended: RW Corey Perry

Don't miss your chance to see the Stars take on the Buffalo Sabres when they return home to American Airlines Center on Thursday, Jan. 16 at 7:30 p.m. Get your tickets now!

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.

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