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Stars Look to Keep Rolling in San Jose

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars will look to make it three for three on their road trip when they take on the Sharks in San Jose tonight.

The Stars enter tonight’s game two points out of the final wild card playoff spot in the Western Conference. A win over the Sharks would push them into that spot based on the points percentage tiebreaker.

The Stars have won the first two games of their trip, defeating Anaheim 2-0 Saturday night and then knocking off Phoenix 3-1 last night. Overall, the Stars are 5-1-1 over their last seven games, and they’ve allowed just nine goals during that stretch.

“It starts with defending. We’ve been defending well,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We made some bigger mistakes in last night’s game than we’ve been typically making, but overall the defending, it starts there. When you make it tough to play against and the opposition finds it hard to get chances, it’s a good step to turn things around.”

The Sharks enter tonight’s game with four losses in their last five games and putting the puck in the net has been an issue. They’ve scored just four goals over those five games and they’ve been shut out twice.

“The first decision we have to make is whether or not we want to work. Until that decision is made and we decide we all want to compete together for a full 60, it doesn’t really matter what we have as far as a game plan goes,” said Sharks coach Todd McLellan. “Right now the jump we have in our game is minimal. The tenacity level Dallas has it at a maximum right now. There is an offset right there. We’re going to have to get to loose pucks. We’re going to have to be strong and have our noses over those pucks to have possession to begin with. After that we’ve got to be in motion, we’ve got to be moving, we’ve got to have our shoot and get it back game, which we haven’t had. There are number of adjustments we can make, but the biggest one is deciding.”

Both teams held optional skates this morning. It appears Kari Lehtonen will make a second straight start for the Stars. Kevin Connauton could be back in defense for the Stars with Aaron Rome being the healthy scratch.

Alex Stalock was the first goaltender off the ice for the Sharks, so it looks like he’ll be in net for San Jose. Stalock stopped 44 of 46 shots in the Sharks 3-2 shootout win over the Stars in San Jose on Dec. 21.

Sharks forward Adam Burish, who has yet to play this season due to back surgery, is expected to be in the lineup tonight.

Wednesday’s game

Who: Dallas Stars at San Jose Sharks
Where: SAP Center, San Jose
When: 9:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars projected lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinValeri Nichushkin
Erik ColeCody EakinRich Peverley
Antoine RousselVernon FiddlerRyan Garbutt
Ray WhitneyShawn HorcoffAlex Chiasson

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley
Jordie BennBrenden Dillon
Kevin ConnautonSergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen
Dan Ellis

Sharks projected lineup

Matt Nieto - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau - Joe Pavelski - Tommy Wingels
James Sheppard - Bracken Kearns - Martin Havlat
Adam Burish - Andrew Desjardins - Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle
Scott Hannan - Brad Stuart

Alex Stalock
Antti Niemi

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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