SHARKS (8-5-3) at STARS (8-8-1)
TV: CSN-California; FS-Southwest
Last 10: San Jose 2-5-3; Dallas 6-4-0
Season series: It’s the first of four meetings between the Pacific Division rivals, who don't meet again until the Stars come to HP Pavilion on April 7. San Jose won five of the six games last season, and Dallas' only win came in a shootout.
Big story: The Sharks' 7-0-0 start is just a distant memory because San Jose's offense has gone cold this month. The Sharks lost 2-1 at Chicago on Friday and have scored just six times in their last seven games. Facing Dallas in the finale of a six-game trip might help -- the Stars have allowed at least three goals in each of their last four games, including Thursday's 4-3 loss to Vancouver, and are still without starting goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who's out with a groin injury.
Sharks: San Jose spent Friday in Chicago for the second week in a row, and although the Sharks put on a better effort the second time, they left with a 2-1 loss. Patrick Marleau gave San Jose a 1-0 lead late in the first period, but Chicago tied it in the second period before Brandon Saad's shorthanded goal in the third extended the Blackhawks' season-opening streak of getting at least one point to 17 games, the longest in NHL history.
"We lost. It's not what we came here to do," coach Todd McLellan said. "We'll look for positives in it, but it's still a loss at the end of the night. It's two points that we won't get back. The fact that we were a little more competitive and a little faster, and in the game a lot more than the last time in here [a 5-2 loss on Feb. 15] is a great thing, but it's still a loss."
Stars: Lehtonen's absence has left the Stars with a goaltending problem -- neither Richard Bachman nor Christopher Nilstorp have given Dallas anywhere near the caliber of play that Lehtonen was before he went down. Lehtonen is 7-2-1 with a 2.12 goals-against average. The Stars are 1-6-0 with Nilstorp and Bachman, who have a combined goals-against average of 3.61, and coach Glen Gulutzan said his team has to learn to win without its No 1 goaltending.
“We did last year," he said. "You look when Bachs was starting last year, we did to some extent. We have to push through that some more. We have to find some success.”
Who's hot: Sharks captain Joe Thornton and forward Patrick Marleau have points in back-to-back games. Marleau scored San Jose's lone goal in Chicago. … Jamie Benn scored a goal in Thursday's 4-3 loss to Vancouver and has 10 points in his last eight games.
John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist
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