The Dallas Stars returned home as the Pacific division leaders with only fifteen games left in the season. But tonight things will continue to heat up as the end of the regular season is within sight. In just under a month the Stars will play 15 games with all but two of them coming against teams in the Western Conference playoff race, and three of their remaining games are against the San Jose Sharks. While the Stars currently hold the divisional lead, the Sharks have played two less game and only sit three points behind Dallas. Tonight’s contest in Dallas could not only be key for the Pacific, but also in the playoff race overall as both the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche are only three points behind the Stars. While the current eight-game points streak (7-0-1) has put the Stars right back in the thick of things, their play over the next month will decide if playoff hockey returns to American Airlines Center and tonight’s game should have a playoff feel to it.
Captain Brenden Morrow remains out of the lineup for the Stars, but today he practiced with the team for the first time since going onto IR. Morrow has missed 17 games heading into tonight’s contest, but the team is hoping he could return this weekend or early next week for the stretch run. Steve Ott left practice this morning but coach Glen Gulutzan said he is expected to play tonight and he was just not feeling well. Jake Dowell skated with the team this morning as well and came off IR this afternoon, meaning he should play Saturday. The returns mean Tomas Vincour could be sent back to the AHL to finish the season with the Texas Stars unless a serious injury happens to one of the top liners. For San Jose, Martin Havlat is out with a hamstring issue. Both teams are expected to have their top goaltenders in the pipes tonight, meaning Kari Lehtonen will see Antti Niemi at the other end.
The puck drops at the AAC at 7:30 central time tonight for the fourth meeting between the two teams this season. The broadcast can be found on Fox Sports Southwest Plus and 1310AM The Ticket tonight. While the Stars have been on fire the last two weeks, they will be facing a team tonight that currently has their number. The Stars have not beaten the Sharks so far this year, losing the three first meetings by three goals every time. But coming in the Sharks have lost three straight games and they can’t seem to find their game recently. While the Stars have been climbing up the standings, the Sharks have gone from contender in the West to simply trying to hold onto a playoff spot. Tonight’s game is big for both teams moving forward, and a regulation win for either could give them a nice advantage as the two teams move into the final month of the regular season.
- The Sharks are 1-5-1 in their last seven road games and 2-7-1 in their last ten games overall.
- The Stars have outscored their opponents 27-13 during their eight-game points streak if you include shootout goals.
- San Jose’s PK is now 28th in the league, and if the Stars PP can capitalize tonight it could what they need to win.
- The Loui Eriksson-Mike Ribeiro-Micheal Ryder line has been on fire during the Stars’ streak, averaging over a point per game for the three players.