The Dallas Stars kick off a big five-game road trip tonight with another late night game out on the west coast. Don’t worry, Stars fans no longer have to worry about this as much after this season due to realignment. Tonight the Stars visit the San Jose Sharks for the first time this season after the Stars lost to the Sharks in Dallas last month. If you remember that contest, the Stars came out flat and got behind early before finally showing some fight late but lost a chippy game 4-1. The Stars are coming off a 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday night, but have had a few days off to rest and prepare for the road. The Sharks meanwhile lost their last contest to Minnesota on Tuesday by a score of 2-1 and have been slumping recently, picking up only one win in their last five games. Tonight will mark the 2nd of six meetings this season between the divisional rivals, and the first of three in San Jose.
The few days off also benefited the Stars on the injury front. Captain Brenden Morrow, top blueliner Alex Goligoski, and fellow defenseman Trevor Daley are all going to return to the lineup tonight for Dallas and it should be a welcome sight. While Morrow had a rough start to the season, we could see something was not right and hopefully the time off helped. And the Stars desperately need Goligoski and Daley back, as the powerplay and puck movement from the back line has greatly suffered with both of them missing time. Mark Fistric will be out as he starts serving his three game suspension tonight, and Adam Burish and Kari Lehtonen are both still probably two weeks away from being back. San Jose will be without a pair of defensmen with the big Douglas Murray out and Jim Vandermeer doubtful for tonight.
The puck drops at 9:30 CST time from in the “Shark Tank” and this is yet another important divisional game (they all are really). The Stars currently hold onto 2nd place in the Pacific after the Coyotes picked up a couple of wins this week, but the Sharks could tie the Stars for points with a win tonight. Recent history between the two teams favors the road team, but both are looking for a bounce-back effort tonight and there are not any friendships in this matchup. Andrew Raycroft will need to look better than he did against the Islanders, and might need to stand on his head a couple of times tonight for Dallas. San Jose might be in a slump, but their offensive firepower still scares me and their only “weakness” is their penalty kill (which is last in the league surprisingly). The Stars will have to play smart during 5-on-5 play and if they get a few chances on the powerplay tonight they have to cash in at least once. And for the love of God, keep an eye on Joe Thorton. For some reason he likes to elude our defensemen in these games. As always you can catch the game on 1310AM The Ticket and on Fox Sports Southwest.
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