Series (Game 4 of 6)

Series tied 3-3

Game 1: Thursday, November 18th
Game 2: Monday, December 13th
Game 3: Thursday, December 16th
Game 4: Saturday, March 5th
Game 5: Tuesday, March 15th
Game 6: Thursday, March 31st

Stars 3

(35-23-7, 77 pts)

Sharks 2

(38-22-6, 82 pts)

10:30 PM ET, March 5, 2011

SAP Center, San Jose, California

1 2 3 T
DAL 1 0 23
SJ 1 1 02

J. Benn (Stars - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

P. Marleau (Sharks - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

A. Goligoski (Stars - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

Stars-Sharks Preview


Perhaps the hottest team in the NHL, the San Jose Sharks are trying to expand their lead in the Pacific Division. The Dallas Stars would like to break away from the middle of the pack in the crowded race.

A victory in regulation would be a major boost to either team.

The Sharks look to extend their winning streak to nine games when they host the division rival Stars on Saturday night in the first of two meetings in less than two weeks.

San Jose (38-21-6) is on a torrid 17-2-1 stretch and riding an eight-game winning streak, its longest since a nine-game run Nov. 13-Dec. 4, 2008. The Sharks have also won seven in a row at home for the first time since winning nine to start the 2008-09 season.

The surge has the Sharks six points ahead of Los Angeles and Phoenix atop the Pacific, while Dallas (34-23-7) and Anaheim lurk seven points back.

"We've put ourselves in a good spot right now, but we've got a lot of games left," right wing Dany Heatley told the Sharks' official website.

Ten of San Jose's 17 remaining games are against division foes, including three with the Stars with the next at Dallas on March 15.

"It doesn't matter who we play right now, we've just got to get wins and climb the standings as much as we can," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "We know there are a bunch of teams on our heels."

The Sharks showed few signs of slowing down Thursday, beating Central-leading Detroit 3-1 behind two goals from Heatley.

Antti Niemi has started 20 straight games for San Jose, going 16-2-1 with a 1.81 goals-against average and three shutouts. He made 26 saves against the Red Wings, and the eight-game winning streak is the longest of his three-year career.

Niemi has lost twice to the Stars this season, including a 29-save effort through overtime of a 3-2 shootout loss at home Dec. 13.

All three 2010-11 matchups between these division rivals have gone to overtime, with Dallas holding a 2-0-1 advantage.

San Jose's win came in the most recent meeting, 4-3 in Dallas on Dec. 16 on an overtime goal by Logan Couture.

The Stars, currently tied with the Ducks and Nashville for the conference's final playoff spot but only three points behind fourth-place Chicago, are trying to rebound after squandering a two-goal lead in the third period of Friday's 4-3 overtime defeat at Anaheim, ending their three-game winning streak.

"It is always a bad feeling when you lose, especially when you lose like this," right wing Loui Eriksson said. "Every point is so big right now, like you see in the conference. We have a game (Saturday) and we have to go out and win and get two points there."

Eriksson and Brad Richards are playing well offensively for Dallas. Eriksson has three goals and two assists during a four-game point streak, while Richards has three goals and an assist over the last three games.

Richards and Eriksson is have both historically struggled in San Jose. Richards has four points in 10 career games there, while Eriksson has eight in 13. Both have failed to get a point in the Stars' last two visits.