Dallas Stars: Devin Setoguchi



DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars finally won the second game of a back-to-back Friday night, and they also put together a winning streak longer than two games for the first time in more than two months. The Stars won their third straight game, defeating the Minnesota Wild 4-1 at American Airlines Center.

The three-game winning streak was the first for the Stars since December 10-15, when they won consecutive games against the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers and New York Islanders.

“We’ve been talking about that for a month, get some wins put together and we’re finally doing it,” said Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 28 of 29 shots. “It’s an interesting time of the year. Every game of the year is so important and we’re having fun.”

The Stars finally won the second game of a back-to-back, something they had failed to do in their first 11 tries this season. They are now 1-9-2 in those games.

“That was a long time coming, we were due to get it eventually and there’s no excuses tonight,” said Stars forward Eric Nystrom. “It’s huge.”

Most important, the Stars picked up two key points as they battle for a playoff spot. The Stars pulled two points ahead of Calgary and Los Angeles in the battle for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

“It’s game-by-game here and it’s going to go that way right until April,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “We’ve got to approach every day like this and get points.”

The Stars, coming off a win in Chicago the previous night, got off to a strong start Friday night, scoring two first period goals to take the lead on the Wild, who had played at Florida on Thursday night.

Tom Wandell opened the scoring 8:48 into the game, digging out a puck behind the Minnesota goal, taking it to the net and then scoring off a rebound.

The Stars added a second goal at the 17:40 mark when Michael Ryder made a pretty cross-ice pass to Loui Eriksson, who scored into the open side of the net for his 20th goal of the season.

“Ryder gave me a real good pass there in front and I had some time to do something there. I walked on the left side and put it in,” Eriksson said. “It was a nice goal and it was nice to have the lead.”

Nystrom made it a 3-0 game early in the second period, finishing off a centering pass from Radek Dvorak for his 16th goal of the season.

“Devo made a great pass and I just tried to shoot it quick and when you do that, sometimes you beat the goalie, it snuck through his legs,” said Nystrom.

That goal chased Wild starter Niklas Backstrom, who was replaced by Matt Hackett.

Minnesota finally broke through on Lehtonen in the third period when they got 40 seconds of five-on-three power play time after Steve Ott took an unsportsmanlike conduct minor and then the Stars’ bench was given a minor for abuse of officials.

Devin Setoguchi scored on the five-on-three, beating Lehtonen with a one-timer from the left circle with 7:17 remaining in the game.

“Too bad (Lehtonen) didn’t get his shutout. It was a really weak five-on-three call,” Gulutzan said. “The explanation we got (on the abuse of officials call against the bench) was not the truth. It should have never been a five-on-three. I really wish it wasn’t because he was going for back-to-back shutouts. The explanation we got for the penalty wasn’t the truth.”

A cross checking minor on Sheldon Souray gave the Wild another brief five-on-three, but the Stars were able to kill that one off.

“I don’t think it’s a Stars game if we don’t make it a little hairy,” Lehtonen said with a smile. “That’s what we do.”

Wandell scored into the empty net for his second goal of the night to make it a 4-1 final.

Notes

*Stars center Jamie Benn (leg) missed his fifth straight game.

*Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu (undisclosed) missed his fourth straight game.

*Adam Pardy was a healthy scratch for the Stars.

*The Stars have now won 16 straight games against Minnesota in Dallas. The Wild last won a game in Dallas in 2003.

*The Stars were 3-4 on the penalty kill in the game and are 17-19 over their last 6 games.

*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play.

*Tom Wandell scored two goals in a game for the first time since October 2010 (at Florida).

*Friday’s attendance was 13,144.

Stars defeat Wild for third straight win

February, 24, 2012
2/24/12
8:17
PM CT
The Dallas Stars ran their winning streak to three games, defeating the Minnesota Wild 4-1 at American Airlines Center Friday night.

Tom Wandell scored twice for Dallas and Loui Eriksson and Eric Nystrom also tallied for the Stars. Kari Lehtonen stopped 28 of 29 shots for the Stars, who have outscored their opponents 10-2 during the streak.

The win pushed the Stars two points ahead of Calgary and Los Angeles in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Stars won the second game of a back-to-back for the first time this season. The three-game winning streak was their first since December 10-15.

Minnesota had a two-game winning streak snapped and fell five points out of the eighth and final playoff spot.

The Stars lost defenseman Philip Larsen during the game. He was hit in the head with a puck late in the second period and did not return.

First period

The Stars struck first at 8:48 into the game. Tom Wandell dug a puck out behind the Minnesota goal, put a puck on net and then scored off a rebound to give the Stars a 1-0 lead.

Less than a minute later, Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen made a scrambling save of a Devin Setoguchi redirection to keep it a 1-0 game.

Just 23 seconds after the Stars killed off the first power play of the game, the Stars scored to make it a 2-0 game. Michael Ryder sent a pass cross-ice pass to Loui Eriksson, who put the puck into the open side of the net for 20th goal of the season.

Second period

The Stars made it a 3-0 game at 3:53 of the second when Radek Dvorak centered a puck from behind the goal line and Eric Nystrom banged it home from the left circle. That ended the night for Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom, who was pulled after allowing three goals on 14 shots. Matt Hackett took over in net for Minnesota.

Both teams were 0-2 on the power play in the period.

The Stars lost defenseman Philip Larsen late in the period when he was hit in the head on a shot by Wild forward Matt Cullen. His status was not known at the end of the period.

Third period

The Stars got in some penalty trouble just after the midway point of the period. Steve Ott took an unsportsmanlike conduct minor and that was followed by a bench minor for abuse of officials, giving the Wild a 40 second five-on-three. They cashed in on that one when Setoguchi scored off a one-timer with 7:17 remaining to make it a 3-1 game.

Sheldon Souray then took a cross-checking minor, giving the Wild a 16 second five-on-three, but the Stars were able to kill that off and preserve the two-goal lead.

Tom Wandell scored into an empty net with 52.3 seconds left to make it a 4-1 final score.

Stars lineup

Eriksson-Ribeiro-Ryder
Ott-Wandell-Burish
Nystrom-Fiddler-Dvorak
Petersen-Garbutt-Vincour

Souray-Robidas
Fistric-Daley
Goligoski-Larsen

Lehtonen (starter)
Bachman

Injured: Dowell (finger), Morrow (neck/shoulder)
Scratched: Pardy


The Dallas Stars got the start they wanted Saturday night, but it was a one minute stretch of the second period that doomed then in a 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild at Excel Energy Center.

The Stars, who had a 2-1 lead in the game, surrendered three goals in a 59-second span, found themselves down 4-2 and could never recover.

“It’s tough. You want to respond after a team scores a goal, but when they bang a few back-to-back, it's definitely demoralizing,” Stars forward Eric Nystrom. “It gets in your psyche and momentum is huge in this game. They got on a roll and we couldn't stop it.”

The loss pushed the Stars’ winless streak to five games (0-4-1) and dropped them to 11th place in the Western Conference standings, four points out of the final playoff spot. The Stars trail ninth place Minnesota by three points.

“We are fighting for the playoffs and this is one of teams we wanted to leapfrog them with a win tonight,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow. “Now we are three points back. We’ve got them again in a couple of weeks. Hopefully this sits in and we have some motivation.”

The Stars were excellent in the first period, outshooting the Wild 11-5 and getting the period’s only goal when Nystrom tipped a Stephane Robidas shot into the net with 1:22 left in the first to give the Stars a 1-0 lead.

But in the second period, things started to unravel for the Stars. Minnesota, which has been struggling to score recently, cashed in on its first power play to tie the game when Devin Setoguchi scored from the right circle. The Stars got the lead back on a Philip Larsen goal, but after that things completely fell apart for Dallas.

The Wild scored three quick goals to build a 4-2 lead. Cal Clutterbuck scored off a backhand shot from close range to tie the game 2-2, Chad Rau put a wrap-around shot in off Morrow’s stick to make it 3-2 and wide open Kyle Brodziak scored on a one-timer to give the Wild a 4-2 lead.

“I guess if I could get a rewind on that, after they got that 3-2 goal I maybe should have called a timeout. But I thought we could handle it as a group. That’s probably the rewind for me,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “Otherwise, we had a good 28 minutes going there, playing the way we wanted to play and we gave them life. A couple little sloppy plays, one on the penalty kill cost us a goal. Just around the net. That’s it. That’s the ballgame.”

Gulutzan pulled goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 15 of 19 shots, after two period and brought in backup Richard Bachman in hopes of changing momentum.

“[Lehtonen] made some big saves for us and we hung him to dry,” Gulutzan said. “I wasn’t going to change Kari with four minutes left in the second, he’s been too good for us to do that. That was a message to our guys that we need to be better. Then on the first shift or second shift we give up a two-on-one. I guess we did it to both guys.”

The Wild extended the lead to 5-2 early in the third period when Warren Peters set up Dany Heatley on a two-on-one rush.

The victory snapped a four-game winless streak for the Wild, who won for just the third time in their last 18 games.

For the Stars, they’ve followed up solid efforts against St. Louis and Detroit earlier in the week with rocky outings against Tampa Bay and Minnesota.

“That’s called inconsistency. You’re not going to be where you want to be if you are playing inconsistent hockey,” said Nystrom. “We had a good first 20 minutes and then we just drift away from our game plan. It eats you up. We’ve got to find a way to be more consistent in our game night in, night out, every shift. It’s not easy. That’s why some teams are where they are and why some teams aren’t where they want to be. It’s little inconsistencies.”

Notes

*The Stars are now 0-7-1 in second game of back-to-backs this season.

*D Philip Larsen was back in the lineup after sitting out the last nine games due to a concussion. He scored his first NHL goal in the game.

*Eric Nystrom’s goal was his 14th of the season.

*Mike Ribeiro (knee) missed his sixth straight game for the Stars and Jamie Benn (appendectomy) missed his fourth straight.

*Mark Fistric and Adam Pardy were healthy scratches for the Stars.

*The last time Minnesota scored four goals in a period was January 2010.
The Dallas Stars’ winless streak hit five games (0-4-1) with a 5-2 loss at Minnesota Saturday. The Stars held a 2-1 lead in the second period, but the Wild scored three goals in a 59 second span to take a 4-2 lead. Kari Lehtonen played the first two periods and stopped 15 of 19 shots. Richard Bachman played the third period and stopped 6 of 7 shots. Eric Nystrom and Philip Larsen scored for the Stars. Larsen’s goal was the first of his NHL career. The Wild, who won for just the third time in the last 18 games, snapped a four-game winless streak and moved three points ahead of the Stars in the Western Conference standings.

First period

The Stars outshot the Wild 11-5 in the period and scored the only goal with 1:22 left before the first intermission.

Stephane Robidas put a shot on net from the right point and Eric Nystrom, acquired from the Wild earlier in the season, tipped it past Minnesota goaltender Josh Harding.

Second period

The Wild tied the game by cashing in on their first power play chance of the game. Devin Setoguchi scored from the right circle at 9:06 of the second period to make it a 1-1 game.

Less than two minutes later the Stars were back on top. Alex Goligoski’s shot from the left point was blocked by Kyle Brodziak and went right to Philip Larsen, who rifled the puck into the net from just inside the blue line at the 11:03 mark.

The Wild then rattled off three goals in 59 seconds to build a 4-2 lead. Matt Cullen tipped a loose puck in the slot to Cal Clutterbuck, who scored from close range to tie the game at the 13:37 mark.

Just 14 seconds later, Chad Rau to got a loose puck behind the Dallas net and his wrap-around shot went off the stick of Brenden Morrow and into the net to give the Wild their first lead of the night.

Forty-five seconds later, Dany Heatley sent a cross-ice pass to Brodziak, who one-timed the puck into the open side of the net to give Minnesota a 4-2 lead.

Third period

Richard Bachman took over in goal for Kari Lehtonen in goal for the Stars to start the third period, and Minnesota scored 1:29 into the period to make it a 5-2 game.

With the Wild on a two-on-one, Warren Peters set up Heatley, who put the puck into the open side of the net.

Stars lineup

Eriksson-Wandell-Ryder
Morrow-Ott-Burish
Nystrom-Fiddler-Dvorak
Petersen-Dowell-Vincour

Souray-Robidas
Grossman-Daley
Goligoski-Larsen

Lehtonen (starter)
Bachman

Scratched: Fistric, Pardy
Injured: Benn (appendectomy), Ribeiro (knee)

Sharks rout Stars, 6-0

March, 31, 2011
3/31/11
10:17
PM CT
The Dallas Stars’ winless streak hit five games (0-2-3) with a 6-0 loss at San Jose Thursday night. The Stars remain three points out of a playoff spot with six games left in the season. The Sharks outshot the Stars 52-29. Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen was pulled early in the third period after giving up four goals on 33 shots. Andrew Raycroft played the rest of the game and stopped 17 of 19 shots.

Quotable

“The first period had lots of battle in it, but it seemed we were unable to match them in the second and third. They looked like a lot fresher club than we did. That’s no excuse for us. We got beat. We got beat soundly tonight. They were full points for the win. We’ve just got to be more determined than we showed tonight. It’s not good enough. We know it’s not good enough. The consolation is we live to fight another day and on the other side of it, it was the whole group that wasn’t good enough.” – Stars coach Marc Crawford

“It was a bit of a mess, but we still live to fight another day. We play in a couple of days and these are the big ones, Los Angeles and Anaheim. We’re running out of games. We’ve been saying we’ve got games, we’ve got points but we’re running out of them. It’s starting to be do or die.” – Stars captain Brenden Morrow

“We were a little concerned coming off the four day layoff, but I think we came out and were obviously energized and the guys used the four days to their advantage.” – Sharks coach Todd McLellan

Notes

*The Stars are 1-4-3 in their last eight games.

*San Jose won the season series against the Stars. The Sharks were 3-1-2 for eight points and the Stars were 3-2-1 for seven points.

*The Stars lost the season series against each of their Pacific Division opponents.

*The 52 shots against Thursday were the most allowed by the Stars this season.

*The Stars were shut out for the fifth time this season.

*Krys Barch, Toby Petersen and Steve were the only three Dallas players to have an even rating in the game.

First period

The Sharks scored the only goal, which came with 3:48 remaining. Sharks center Joe Pavelski put a spinning backhander on net off the rush and defenseman Dan Boyle scored on the rebound.

The Sharks came close to extending it to a 2-0 lead with just under two minutes left in the period, but Stars goalie stopped Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi on a breakaway.

Brandon Segal was the lone healthy scratch for the Stars. Karlis Skrastins, Adam Burish, Nicklas Grossman and Brian Sutherby remain out with injury.

Second period

The Sharks extended their lead to 2-0 with a power play goal at the 4:30 mark of the second period. Logan Couture knocked a rebound out of the air with his hand and then backhanded the puck into the open side of the net for his 31st goal of the season.

The Stars had three straight power play chances later in the period, but couldn’t take advantage. Stars forward Loui Eriksson had an excellent chance on the third one, but Sharks goalie Antti Niemi made a sharp pad save.

San Jose made it a 3-0 game with 1:25 left in the period. Devin Setoguchi helped win a puck battle along the boards and then went to the front of the net, setting a screen on a Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot from the left point.

Third period

Sharks forward Patrick Marleau scored from the left circle off the rush at the 2:30 mark of the third, making it a 4-0 game. That ended the night for Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who gave up four goals on 33 shots.

Andrew Raycroft came in, playing in his first game since February 19. He stopped 17 of 19 shots, allowing goals by Marleau and Ben Eager.

Marleau scored on a close range backhand shot after taking a centering pass from Joe Thornton.

Eager scored off a the rush, making a nice move to go forehand to backhand between his legs before scoring his goal.

Stars lineup

Morrow-Ribeiro-Williams/Benn
Ott-Richards-Eriksson
Vincour-Benn-Langenbrunner
Barch-Wandell-Petersen
Eriksson-Richards-Langenbrunner

Goligoski-Robidas
Woywitka-Daley
Goligoski-Lukowich
Fistric-Robidas

Lehtonen
Raycroft

Injured: Grossman (knee), Skrastins (leg), Burish (leg), Sutherby (back)

Scratches: Segal

Power play units

Morrow-Ribeiro-Eriksson-Richards-Goligoski
Ott-Benn-Langenbrunner-Daley-Robidas

Penalty kill units

Ott-Benn-Goligoski-Robidas
Ribeiro-Morrow-Fistric-Daley
Eriksson-Langenbrunner-Goligoski-Robidas

Stars-Sharks thoughts & observations

December, 17, 2010
12/17/10
1:24
AM CT
Some thoughts and observations following the Stars 4-3 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks at American Airlines Center Thursday night.
  • Points are important and the Stars got one out of this one. Considering they were shorthanded the final 49 seconds of regulation, it was probably a good point when you look at it as a whole. Regulation losses are the real killers and the Stars’ penalty kill got the Stars to OT and secured at least the one point.
  • Stars coach Marc Crawford:” You never like to give one away, but it definitely is a point that will help us.You look around the league, it seems like the first thing we do is see what the other scores are. A lot of teams in our conference lost tonight, so we pick up a pretty important point on them.”
  • Phoenix, Anaheim and Los Angeles all lost in regulation Thursday night, so it was a valuable point. The Stars have points in 10 of their last 12 games (8-2-2).
  • The Stars and Sharks have played three games this season and all of them have gone beyond regulation. The Stars are 2-0-1 in the three games for a total of 5 points and the Sharks are 1-0-2 for a total of 4 points.
  • The Sharks outshot the Stars 43-18 in the game, including a 26-14 shots advantage in five-on-five play. San Jose had 17 shots on the power play. The Stars had two on the power and scored on both of them. Dallas had two shorthanded shots as well.
  • The special teams were very good on this night. If you had told me that the Stars’ power play would go 2-2 and their PK would be 6-7 and kill off a 1:39 five-on-three, I would have put a few bucks on them winning the game. But it didn’t go that way on this night. The Stars lost the five-on-five game, getting outscored 3-1. And San Jose’s one power play goal came at the right time – overtime.
  • Kari Lehtonen had a pretty good game. He was great early, especially on that San Jose five-on-three in the first period and he was outstanding in the third period. I think he might like to have a couple goals back, but it was a pretty good performance and he seemed to settle in and shake off the rust as the game moved along. He made 39 saves and helped the Stars get a point in this game.
  • Brenden Morrow had a big game, picking up a goal and registering a game-high 11 hits on the night. Not bad for a guy who had his nose broken by a puck Monday in San Jose, finished out that game and had surgery on it Wednesday. “He just continues to impress with his character and his leadership,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “That’s leadership in a nutshell right there.”
  • Give the Sharks some credit for a good effort. They suffered a disappointing loss in Nashville Wednesday, giving up two late goals in a 3-2 loss, and bounced back with a pretty good effort against the Stars. Getting Kent Huskins back on the blue line helped and having Devin Setoguchi back in their lineup is a big plus as well.

Stars fall in overtime to Sharks, 4-3

December, 16, 2010
12/16/10
8:16
PM CT


The Dallas Stars ran their home points streak to 11 games (9-0-2) but they only got one point, losing 4-3 in overtime to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night at American Airlines Center. Logan Couture’s power play goal at 1:20 of overtime was the game-winner for the Sharks. Brenden Morrow, Loui Eriksson and Tom Wandell scored goals for the Stars. Kari Lehtonen stopped 39 shots in returning to the net after missing the last four games with back soreness.

First period

The Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks are tied 1-1 after one period at American Airlines Center.

The Stars’ penalty kill came up big early in the game, stopping the Sharks on a five-on-three power play that lasted for 1:39. Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen made five saves on the five-on-three.

Just as he came out of the penalty box to make it a five-on-four, Jeff Woywitka had a prime shorthanded scoring chance but it was denied by Sharks goalie Antero Niittymaki.

The Sharks opened the scoring at 10:05 with an even strength goal off the rush. Devin Setoguchi took a pass from Joe Pavelski and scored into the open side of the net to make it a 1-0 game.

The Stars tied the game with a power play goal with 50.2 seconds left in the period. Loui Eriksson won a puck battle at the San Jose blue line, skated to the slot and set up Brenden Morrow, who scored from the right circle.

Some notes after one period.
  • The Sharks outshot the Stars 16-6 in the period.
  • The Stars were 1-1 on the power play.
  • San Jose was 0-3 on the power play.
  • The Stars won 8 of 14 faceoffs in the first period.
Second period

The San Jose Sharks lead the Dallas Stars 3-2 after two periods of play at American Airlines Center.

The Stars took the lead midway through the second period by cashing on their second power play chance of the game. Loui Eriksson got to the rebound of a Brad Richards shot from the point and roofed the puck over Sharks goalie Antero Niittymaki at the 9:26 mark.

But the Sharks answered just 37 seconds later to tie the game at 2-2. Torrey Mitchell beat Kari Lehtonen with a shot from the slot off the rush at 10:03 of the second period.

The Sharks made it a 3-2 game less than two minutes later when Devin Setoguchi scored his second of the game, whipping a shot past Lehtonen from the top of the right circle off the rush at the 11:49 mark.

Some notes after two periods.
  • The Sharks outshot the Stars 7-6 in the second period and have a 23-13 advantage for the game.
  • The Stars are 2-2 on the power play through two periods.
  • San Jose is 0-3 on the power play.
  • The Stars have won 19 of 33 faceoffs through two periods.
Third period

The Stars killed off a San Jose power play early in the third and then drew even at the 7:56 mark when Tom Wandell circled out from behind the San Jose net and scored on a shot from the right circle to make it a 3-3 game.

The Stars came close to taking the lead with 4:26 remaining, but James Neal hit the post from point blank range.

The Sharks went on a 4:00 power play with 49 seconds remaining after Mike Ribeiro was called for high sticking Dany Heatley. The Stars killed off the first 49 seconds to get the game to overtime.

Overtime

The Sharks had 3:11 of power play time left when overtime began and scored 1:20 into the extra period when Logan Couture ripped a shot from the slot past Kari Lehtonen.

Chatting with a Sharks blogger

December, 21, 2009
12/21/09
4:37
PM CT

Jason Plank at the Sharks' blog Fear the Fin answered some San Jose questions in preparation for tonight's game:

Q: Give us a scouting report on the Sharks. What's good? What's bad?


A:
The Sharks recently broke a five game losing streak with a win against Anaheim on Thursday, and during that span they had a load of trouble getting secondary scoring -- Manny Malhotra has been the only non top-six forward to find the back of the net during the last six games. It was an issue in the playoffs last season, and with Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau accounting for roughly 40% of the team's goals up to this point, there is definite room for improvement from the lower lines.


The blueline is also a concern -- we've had our eye on it since the beginning of the year, and there hasn't been enough consistency amongst the unit as a whole to confidently say that it won't pose some issues for the team moving forward. The loss of Christian Ehrhoff to Vancouver this offseason and Rob Blake's decline in number have hurt the team offensively, which has highlighted the defensive miscues that may have been masked last season with the lack of a premier shutdown defenseman.


The issue with these holes, of course, is the lack of cap space Doug Wilson has to work with. The Sharks are pushed right up against the cap, and don't have a lot of expendable pieces to move that make enough in the salary department. If they move a forward they likely lose a 20+ goal scorer, and if they move a defenseman they risk sacrificing a strong team in the future -- it's really a pick your poison type deal, as all of the assets that would yield a significant return are fairly large pieces to the current puzzle.


The good? San Jose is a Cup contending team, as they always are at this time of the year. Top to bottom this roster could be considered the best San Jose has ever iced.

Q: Talk about Joe Thornton and what kind of season he's having. What makes him so solid?


A:
Thornton's a special player who can control a game below the dots-- for all the punishment he takes on a nightly basis from opposing team's shutdown pairings, it's amazing how effective he has managed to be. His vision with the puck is exceptional; coupled with the fact that he has yet to miss a game in a San Jose uniform, that reliability plays a huge part in being able to build a consistently dangerous line around him.


It's no secret that players tend to have breakout goal scoring years when playing with him.

Q: What kind of impact is Dany Heatley having on this team?


A:
For all of the perceived baggage Heatley was potentially bringing over from Ottawa, those aspects haven't shown up in the locker room as far as the general fan can tell. However, he's asked out of two teams before, and while I don't envision that being a problem for San Jose as long as they're still a contender, you still hold some reservations in the back of your mind if things do end up going south.


On the ice he's obviously a huge factor, and has provided San Jose with a pure sniper that they've never really had before (Cheechoo's Rocket Richard year being the exception here). McLellan has actually broken Thornton and him up the last two games in order to get Devin Setoguchi going-- it's a short term solution that I don't agree with (Marleau being my pick to play on Pavelski's wing), and while I think the coaching staff will eventually put him back on the top line where he belongs, it's a little confusing.

Q: Fans are interested in former Stars player Manny Malhotra. How is he doing?


A:
Malhotra's been a godsend for San Jose, especially after news came out he rejected a four year deal worth two million per year to sign for nearly the league minimum -- while I'm essentially considering him a rental player who, due to the aforementioned cap issues, won't be re-signed next offseason, it's still nice to know that San Jose can attract some high impact free agents in areas of need. The organization has historically had a lot of trouble in that department.


With Manny you're obviously getting a defensive-minded forward first and foremost, and that's a big plus when it comes to reducing the shorthanded minutes of our premier players like Pavelski and Marleau. Toss in the fact that he's been chipping in on the scoresheet and there's no complaints here.

Q: Breakdown the Sharks' special teams for us.


A:
The power play has hit a rut in December, and Todd McLellan has described the top unit in the past as, "The Globetrotters." They look good moving the puck, but don't really do much in the way of generating scoring opportunities. San Jose tends to struggle when they try to run everything through Joe Thornton surprisingly, as he's not a shooting threat and will try and force passes into the low slot when the shot from the point isn't clicking. Running it through a guy like Patrick Marleau, who's a much more dynamic stick handler when driving the net, usually yields more positive results. If you shift the attention away from Big Joe he becomes that much more dangerous when threading the needle on touch passes.


The PK has been rock solid. A large part is due to the recent acquisitions of Nichol and Malhotra, along with contributions from some unlikely sources in Heatley and Thornton as well. Pavelski and Marleau have been fixtures on this unit from last year-- when your big guns are as committed to playing on both ends of the ice as those two are, it trickles down the lineup.

Q: Who can the Stars expect to see in goal tonight? Tell us about him.

A:
Evgeni Nabokov will be in net tonight, and I'm sure Stars fans are as familiar with him as Sharks fans are as familiar with Marty Turco. He's had a good year thus far, and has managed to reduce the amount of five-hole goals he's given up-- it's been his achilles heel the last two seasons, which isn't all too surprising. Nabokov likes to heavily challenge shooters, and with his increasing age, you can see the reflexes are starting to slide a bit.


He's been getting a heavy workload this year as well. I'm not sure that's an effective gameplan from an assets management standpoint-- Nabby is the likely starter for Team Russia at the Winter Olympics, and with the compressed schedule this season, that workload may begin to show up as we make our way into the last quarter of the year.

Q: Which players should Stars fans be special attention to tonight?


A:
I'm sure Stars fans are familiar with the majority of San Jose's roster due to playing them frequently, so I'll go off the board here and say Jason Demers who has played one game against Dallas this season. He was a relative unknown coming into camp that managed to find a way onto the bottom pairing, and models his game off Dan Boyle. Strong puck mover who can skate, and while he runs into trouble occasionally when forcing breakout passes up the middle of the ice, there's some definite improving offensive acumen he brings to the table. That being said, if I'm Crawford I attack that pairing (Kent Huskins is his partner) with the last change at home. They started the season strong, but tailed off around game twenty five or so, resulting in Demers being sent down to the minor league affiliate for two weeks to work on his game.

Jamie McGinn is also a player to watch tonight on the third line, and has all of the tools to become a 25-30 goal scorer down the road. He'll throw his weight around on the forecheck and can cycle the puck, as well as possessing some good hands and a long skating stride.

Q: Injury report?


A:
San Jose ran into some injury issues to start the year, but by now the team is largely healthy. Brad Staubitz and Jody Shelley are questionable tonight, so Frazer McLaren will assume the duties of keeping that rascal Steve Ott in check.

Q: Anything else Stars fans should know about the Sharks?


A:
Games with Dallas are always tight affairs, and I expect nothing less tonight. What you see is what you get with these division matchups.

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