Dallas Stars: San Jose Sharks

Adam Burish signs with San Jose Sharks

July, 2, 2012
7/02/12
1:09
PM CT
The San Jose Sharks added some toughness by signing forward Adam Burish to a four-year, $7.4 million contract.

"He's the type of guy you hate to play against," Sharks GM Doug Wilson said. "You want him on your side. He doesn't care about anything other than winning."

Burish, 29, is a physical forward who played mostly on the fourth line in Dallas last season. He had six goals, 13 assists, 76 penalty minutes and a plus-6 rating.

Burish has 25 goals and 29 assists with 490 penalty minutes in 297 career games. He played his first four seasons in Chicago, winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, before spending the last two years with the Stars, where he missed the playoffs.

"I miss that suffering, that kind of pain, playing tired, playing hurt," he said. "As crazy as that sounds, I miss that. I want to figure out how to win a Stanley Cup again. San Jose, to me, should be a team competing for the Stanley Cup every year."
Now that the Stars have been eliminated from the playoff race, they are in mix for the NHL draft lottery, which will be held Tuesday.

The Stars are currently the 17th place team in the NHL, hold the 14th pick in the draft and have a 0.5 percent chance of winning the lottery and moving up four places. They can still move up in the lottery draft standings depending on how things go on the final day of the season.

The draft lottery standings are below.

Playoff watch

The playoff teams are set in both conferences now. The only question is the final seeding. The Stars and Colorado were both eliminated in the West last night, leaving Vancouver, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Nashville, Detroit, Chicago, San Jose and Phoenix.

In the East it’s the New York Rangers, Boston, Florida, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Ottawa and Washington.

Play of the night: Clowe’s stickwork from the bench

The play of the night had to be San Jose’s Ryane Clowe reaching out with his stick from the bench and breaking up a Los Angeles Kings rush. None of the officials saw it, so there was no call.

The story and video is here.

The Dallas Stars can keep their playoff hopes alive tonight -- or they can be eliminated.

A win over the Nashville Predators will keep them alive and kicking for at least one more day. Here are the ways they can be eliminated from the race Thursday:

*A regulation loss against Nashville.

*An overtime loss against Nashville and a Los Angeles win over San Jose in overtime or shootout.

*An overtime loss against Nashville and a San Jose win over Los Angeles in regulation, overtime or shootout.

Also, if the Stars win and San Jose wins in overtime or a shootout, they’ll no longer be able to catch either the Sharks or Kings, so they would have to turn their attention to catching Phoenix, which doesn’t play its final two games until Friday (at St. Louis) and Saturday (at Minnesota).

Colorado is still in the hunt. The Avalanche need a win over Columbus tonight and they need to hope that San Jose loses in regulation.




FRISCO -- The Dallas Stars no longer control their own destiny in the playoff race, but they are still alive and hope to keep the heat on the teams they are chasing.

That means the Stars need to win Thursday in Nashville and then hope that San Jose, Los Angeles and Phoenix don’t get enough points in their next game to eliminate Dallas, pushing the race down to the final day of the season on Saturday.

“If we get our points then and then Los Angeles, San Jose or Phoenix doesn’t on Thursday or Friday, then there is a lot of pressure on somebody the last day,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “We’d like to put that pressure on somebody.”

But the Stars are going to need some help from others. After getting swept in by San Jose in a home-and-home series, the Stars no longer control their own destiny, so they best they can do is take care of their own business and watch and hope.

"We all know the situation. We've got to win two games to give ourselves a chance, and we need a little help," Gulutzan said. "If we take care of ourselves here, I think, it is going to come down to the last day and we are going to put somebody in a must-win situation. That's how we see it playing out. We're not going to focus too much of what somebody else has to do; we have to win, and that's pick up four points in the next two games."

And that was the message Wednesday in Frisco as the Stars prepared to head off to Nashville in yet another do-or-die game.

“We’re still in it, although it is a tougher road,” said defenseman Stephane Robidas. “We have to hope other teams lose, but we can’t quit now. We’ve played 80 games so far and we’ve put ourselves in the situation we’re in. We’ve just got to win our games.

Playing catch up in the playoff race

Here’s a look at how the Stars can catch each of the teams they are still chasing the Western Conference playoff race. The Stars would only need to tie each team in the standings since they would own the first tiebreaker, which is regulation/overtime wins.

Los Angeles: The Stars would have to win both their final two games and the Kings would have to lose both their two remaining games against San Jose in regulation.

Phoenix: The Stars would have to win both their final two games and the Coyotes would have to lose their two remaining games, which are at St. Louis (Friday) and at Minnesota (Saturday).

San Jose: There are two ways to catch the Sharks. The Stars would have to win both their final games and the Sharks would have lose their remaining two games against the Kings and at least one of those losses would have to be in regulation. The second scenario is that the Stars go 1-0-1 in their remaining two games and the Sharks lose both their games against the Kings in regulation.
The worst case scenario for the Dallas Stars Tuesday was to lose in regulation to the San Jose Sharks, and for the Phoenix Coyotes to win. That’s what happened and now the Stars’ chances of making the playoffs pretty slim.

The folks at sportsclubstats.com now put the Stars’ chances of making the playoffs at 8.8 percent, down from 46.5% when play started Tuesday night.

The Stars now trail the Sharks by three points, and both Los Angeles and Phoenix by four points. The Stars hold the first tiebreaker (regulation/overtime wins) over each of those teams, so they could pass anyone of them by equaling their points.

To make the playoffs the Stars have to win their final two games – at Nashville (Thursday) and vs. St. Louis (Saturday) and then hope for one of the following scenarios.

San Jose gets one or no points in its final two games.

Los Angeles gets no points in its final two games.

Phoenix gets no points in its final two games.

Now, San Jose and Los Angeles play each other in a home-and-home, so one of those teams is picking up two points on Thursday when they meet in the first game. Phoenix plays at St. Louis (Friday) and then at Minnesota Saturday.

But before any of that comes into play, the Stars will have to win at Nashville on Thursday to stay alive in the race.






DALLAS -- The opportunities were there for the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night, but the finish wasn’t. And now they are perilously close to being finished in the Western Conference playoff race after a 5-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks at American Airlines Center.

“It stings,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow. “You’d like to be able to control your own fate. We had that tonight, we let it go and now we are going to need a lot of help.”

The loss left the Stars three points behind the eighth place Sharks, four points behind seventh place Phoenix and four points behind Pacific Division leading Los Angeles with two games remaining. The Stars will need to win both games and hope for at least one of those teams to falter.

“It’s going to be tough, but we just can’t quit,” said Morrow. “Stranger things have happened. We are going to need a lot of help, some people to do us some favors. “

The Stars, who have lost seven of their last ten games, didn’t do themselves any favors Tuesday night. They missed on a 57 second five-on-three power play with the game tied 1-1. San Jose scored the game-winning goal on the power play.

“They got their third goal on the power play, and that can be a big difference in the hockey game,” said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas. “We score on the five-on-three, and we’ve got a five-on-four after that and we get another one, maybe it’s a different game. But we didn’t.”

After going up 2-1 in the game in the second period, they allowed the Sharks to tie the game just 32 seconds later.

“It’s always the shift right after a goal you need a good shift, and we just didn’t get it,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “It got them right back in the game. We had no chance to build off that momentum of that goal.”

The Stars had a great chance to tie the game with a little more than five minutes, but Jamie Benn’s breakaway bid was turned away by Sharks goalie Antti Niemi. About 30 seconds later the Sharks scored to extend their lead to 4-2.

“We got to spring Jamie on a breakaway, but we were already in trouble at that point,” said Gulutzan. “It would have been nice, but there were a few things throughout the game that we could have done better.”

The Stars had the momentum early in the game, dominating play outshooting the Sharks 8-1 midway through the first period. But the Sharks got on the board 12:09 into the game when Daniel Winnik put a rebound past Kari Lehtonen, who appeared to be interfered with just before the puck went into the net.

The Stars answered late in the period when Brenden Morrow came out from behind the goal line and beat Niemi with a sharp angle backhand shot at the 17:47 mark.

The Stars had a big chance to take the lead when they had 57 seconds of five-on- three power play time that started late in the first and had 38 seconds remaining when the second period began. But they couldn’t get a shot on net, and then failed to take advantage of the remaining five-on-four time.

“We just didn’t execute,” said Gulutzan.

The Stars did take the lead at even strength at the 11:10 mark. Jamie Benn sent a pass from behind the goal line to Alex Goligoski, who beat Niemi with a shot from the point.

But the Sharks scored just 32 seconds later when Dominic Moore sent a puck from behind the goal line to T.J. Galiardi, who roofed a shot over Lehtonen.

“About two weeks ago we were talking about those. We call them bump-up goals,” said Sharks coach Todd McLellan. “Right after you get scored on when you do, then you go out, win a draw, play in the other team’s end and get a big goal.”

The Sharks took the lead with a power play goal with 2:36 left in the second. Martin Havlat centered the puck from the right boards and Logan Couture redirected it past Lehtonen to make it a 3-2 game.

The Stars had a great chance to tie with just over five minutes remaining when Benn got a breakaway, but his backhand bid was stopped by Niemi.

“Huge, if he doesn’t make that it’s a different game,” said Sharks center Joe Thornton. “It’s a set play. We’ve seen him do it in the past. We just kind of fell asleep. He’s a world-class goalie and he makes that save. Saved our bacon again tonight.”

About 30 seconds later, Thornton scored off a wrist shot from the right circle to make it a 4-2 San Jose lead with 4:50 remaining in the game. Ryane Clowe added an empty net goal to make it a 5-2 final and give the Sharks the sweep of a crucial home-and-home series with the Stars.

“The two games against Dallas were the two biggest games of the year,” said McLellan. “We’re in a playoff series, we talked about that. When you can win back-to-back games in a playoff series – one at home and one on the road – you usually set yourself up pretty well. Very big, considering that four points went into our account and none went into theirs.”

And now the Stars will move onto play at Nashville, where they’ll need a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

“You have to move forward and now we need help,” said Gulutzan. “You just start preparing and get ready for Nashville. It’s business as usual. There’s no other way to look at it. It’s business as usual. We’ve got to go win a game.”

Notes

*The Sharks won five of six games against the Stars this season. Not including the goal awarded for the shootout win, the Sharks outscored the Stars 25-10 in the season series.

*The Stars have two games remaining in the regular season. They play at Nashville Thursday and host St. Louis Saturday.

*The Stars are 0-11 on the power play over their last four games and 1-21 (4.8%) on the PP over the last seven games.

*The Stars have allowed six power play goals over the last five games and are 17-23 (73.9%) on the penalty kill during that stretch.

*Stars RW Radek Dvorak missed his fifth straight game with an ankle injury.

*Toby Petersen, Reilly Smith, Tom Wandell and Adam Pardy were healthy scratches for Dallas.

*Tuesday’s attendance was 18,584, a sellout.

Playoff watch: Kings pad division lead

April, 3, 2012
4/03/12
1:34
AM CT
The Los Angeles Kings kept the pressure on the rest of the teams chasing them in the playoff race with a 2-o win over Edmonton Monday night at Staples Center.

The Kings, who are 9-2-1 over their last 12 games, now lead the Coyotes by two points, the Sharks by three and the Stars by four. All those teams have a game in hand and can make up some ground Tuesday night.

The big game of course is the Stars and Sharks at American Airlines Center. Nobody is clinching a playoff spot Tuesday and nobody is getting eliminated, but the winner is going to be in a playoff spot with two games to go and the loser is going to be in a tough spot.

Let's not forget that all wins don't always reap the same benefits in the NHL playoff race. Sometimes you get two points and the other team gets no points, and sometimes the other team gets one point. Whether the Stars-Sharks game is settled in regulation or beyond regulation will be a factor in how things look moving forward.

But heat is really on the Stars, since they are the team on the outside looking in right now. They don't win and the math starts getting tough, especially with a regulation loss. They win and they still have tough games against Nashville and St. Louis. That doesn't mean there isn't any pressure on the Sharks. A loss pushes them out the eighth spot and behind the eight ball with two games left.

Phoenix hosts Columbus Tuesday night in the other key game. This isn't exactly a gimme for the Coyotes. They are 0-3-0 against the Blue Jackets this season. The Coyotes have a chance, if they can win, to push farther ahead of which ever team comes up on the short end of the Stars-Sharks score.

It's a big night in the race. It will be interesting to see where things stand once play ends.





Stakes are high as Stars take on Sharks

April, 3, 2012
4/03/12
12:37
AM CT
FRISCO, Texas -- Tuesday’s game between the Dallas Stars and the San Jose Sharks is big. There are only so many ways you can say it, but the Stars found a variety of ways to sum it up after Monday’s practice in Frisco.

“It’s our biggest game for sure,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. “We’ve said for a long time that every game is big, but this game either puts us in the driver’s seat or it takes us out of it. It’s a huge game.”

“It’s as big of a do-or-die as you’re going to find,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow. “There’s been a lot of history with these two teams in the past, and we're both scratching and clawing to get to the postseason, so there is a lot on the line tomorrow night.”

“We have our chance to control our destiny,” Stars forward Steve Ott said. “That’s the biggest thing we can take out of tomorrow night. The chance is in our hands. We need to find a way to grab big points. We knew it was going to be tight two months ago, and the reality now is we have a chance to control it.”

The Stars and Sharks enter the game separated by one point in the Western Conference. The Sharks currently sit in the eighth and final playoff spot. The Stars are in ninth place. Tuesday’s winner is in a playoff spot with two games remaining. The loser faces an uphill climb. How big a climb will depend on whether the loss is in regulation or in overtime or is a shootout. And how many points Phoenix picks up Tuesday night against Columbus will be key as well. But however it happens, a loss would be a big blow.

For the Stars, though, the path to success is pretty simple. With three games left there are six points available to them. Get those six points and they are in the playoffs.

“If you look at the standings, everything is in our control. At this point, with three games left, that’s all you can ask, is to have control,” Gulutzan said. “You’ve got to win the games to get in, so it’s just nice to know that if we do, then we control our own destiny.”

But to maintain control of that destiny they’ll need to beat the Sharks, who won game one of the home-and-home series 3-0 Saturday night in San Jose. The Sharks scored 58 seconds into the game and had a 2-0 lead by the first intermission. The Stars see a strong start as key Tuesday night.

“There’s going to be a lot of focus on that first shift, that first ten minutes like they did in their rink,” Morrow said. “They came at us hard in 10-12 minutes, and we’ve got to focus on that start.”

The Sharks have won four of five against the Stars, but three of those wins, including Saturday’s, came with the Stars playing on the second night of a back-to-back, not exactly their strong suit this season. The Stars are hoping a couple of days between games will bring a different result.

“The rest is obviously key,” Ott said. “We played a highly emotional game in Vancouver, it was a highly emotional road trip and then you go into San Jose, and our back-to-back record has been terrible all year. That’s obviously a cause of concern in the last game, but to have that extra rest and let the emotions settle and to come in with an energized team again, I truthfully think it will make a big difference.”

It has to, or the Stars will no longer control their destiny.

Stars-Sharks Preview

April, 2, 2012
4/02/12
11:46
PM CT
San Jose Sharks at Dallas Stars
Tuesday April 3, 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: KTCK-1310 (AM)

About the Stars

The Stars (42-32-5) fell to ninth place in the West with Saturday’s 3-0 loss to the Sharks in San Jose. The Stars went 1-3-0 on their four-game road trip and have lost six of their last nine games (3-6-0). They trail the eighth place Sharks by one point with three games left in the regular season.

“We played them at the end of a back-to-back on the road. It was a tough one,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “You drop that one, obviously, as quickly as you can. We would have liked to get some points, but we didn’t. Once again, we control our own fate. On a home-and-home against San Jose – if you looked at the start of the season – you’ve got to win one of those, and it has to be Tuesday.”

After Tuesday’s game, the Stars play at Nashville Thursday and then host St. Louis on Saturday.

Left wing Eric Nystrom, who has missed the last three games with a leg laceration, practiced Monday and should be ready to play Tuesday. Radek Dvorak, who has missed the last four games with a sore ankle, skated Monday but did not practice. He’ll be a game day decision.

Kari Lehtonen is expected to start in goal for the Stars.

Injuries: LW Eric Nystrom (leg) is probable. RW Radek Dvorak (ankle) is questionable.

About the Sharks

The Sharks (40-29-10) snapped a two-game losing streak with their 3-0 win over the Stars and moved back into the top eight, where they have not spent much time recently.

"I'm going to tell you the same thing as I told you when we lost in Phoenix – time to move on,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said after the victory. “People wonder what the hell he is he talking about, but you put the losses behind you, you put the wins behind you, and you get ready to go back to work. You can’t get too high, you can’t get too low. There are six points out there that are really important.”

After Tuesday’s game in Dallas the Sharks have a home-and-home with Los Angeles, playing at LA on Thursday then hosting the Kings on the Saturday.

Sharks defenseman Doug Murray, who has missed the last two games with a lower body injury, practiced Monday but is questionable for Tuesday’s game.

Antti Niemi is expected to start in goal for the Sharks.

Injuries: D Douglas Murray (lower body) is questionable.

Series notes

*This the sixth and final between the two teams this season.

*The Stars are 1-4-0 in the season series.

*The Sharks are 4-0-1 in the series.

*November 19, at Dallas: Sharks 4, Stars 1
*December 8, at San Jose: Sharks 5, Stars 2
*February 2, at San Jose: Sharks 5, Stars 2
*March 8, at Dallas: Stars 4, Sharks 3 (SO)
*March 31, at San Jose: Sharks 3, Stars 0

Statistical tidbits

*The Sharks have lost three straight on the road, are 1-6-2 in their last nine away from home and are 4-13-4 in their last 21 road games.

*The Stars are 2-2-0 in their last four at home and 6-2-1 over their last nine games at home.

*The Stars have scored two goals or fewer in seven of their last eleven games.

*The Sharks have allowed three goals or more in 14 of their last 17 road games. The Sharks have allowed an average of 3.59 goals per game during those 17 road games.

*Over their nine road games the Sharks have scored 16 goals (1.78 per game).

*The Stars are 1-19 (5.3%) on the power play over the last six games.

*The Stars have allowed five power play goals over the last four games and are 14-19 (73.7%) on the penalty kill during that stretch.


There’s only one game in the Western Conference playoff race tonight, and that has the Los Angeles Kings hosting the Edmonton Oilers.

It’s a big chance for the Kings to put some heat on the teams chasing them in the race. A win and they go two points up on Phoenix, three on San Jose and four on Dallas. That would put them in a pretty good spot. Get one point or none, then they have to watch Tuesday and see where they stand heading into the final two games of the season.

It’s easy to look at this game on paper and say it’s a win for the Kings, but look around the league and you’ll see games aren’t always playing out the way you’d think.

For example, the Minnesota Wild notched shootout victories over both the Kings and Blackhawks over the weekend. The Wild aren’t going through the motions here at the end of the season. Neither are a lot of other teams. The Wild are worth noting because they host Phoenix the final day of the season.

That’s why a lot of can and will happen over this final week and it may not play out the way it looks like it should on paper. Games will be settled and points will be gained and lost on the ice.

Of note yesterday, Detroit beat Florida in a shootout to move into that fourth spot in the West. They are one point up on Nashville and Chicago, which picked up a point in that shootout loss to the Wild.




Crunch time arrives for the Stars

April, 1, 2012
4/01/12
11:58
PM CT
The Dallas Stars have been in an every-game-is-big mentality for some time now, but they've faced no bigger game this season than this Tuesday’s tilt against San Jose at American Airlines Center.

“It’s a do-or-die mentality,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. “It’s got to be there.”

They’ll enter the game one point behind the eighth-place Sharks with three games left. A loss would be a devastating blow. A win, and there’s life.

“Our fate is in our own hands, still, and at this juncture of the season that is what you have to focus on,” Gulutzan said. “We don’t need someone to beat somebody else, we just need to win our last three games.”

Those last three games won’t be easy tilts. Three good teams. All with something to play for as well. The Sharks, like the Stars, are in a dogfight just to make the playoffs.

The Nashville Predators, whom the Stars visit Thursday, are in a three-way battle for the fourth seed in the West and home ice in the first round of the playoffs.

The St. Louis Blues, who come to Dallas on Saturday, are vying for the top spot in the West and home ice advantage throughout the conference playoffs.

“We’ve been doing it the hard way all year and we’re kind of in that spot right now. It’s nice to go back home, but we’ve got our work cut out,” Stars captain Brenden Morrow said. “It’s three tough teams, (San Jose) is a tough team to play, they’re hungry, they know what’s at stake and it doesn’t get any easier from there.”

The Sharks have won four of five from the Stars this season and their 3-0 win Saturday was a convincing victory. But three of their wins over the Stars came with Dallas playing on the second night of a back-to-back, and the Stars will now have a couple of days to rest up and get ready for the rematch.

“It’s a must-win,” Morrow said. “I don’t know the exact mathematical equation or what needs to be done, but it’s probably three wins or nothing for us. It’s nice to be able to get them again while the blood’s hot a little bit, get a little redemption, but if we do the same thing we did (Saturday night), we’re not going to have the success we want.”

“You just got to bounce back, learn from what we did wrong,” Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas said. “It’s a good team and but it’s a team we know we can beat. Sometimes when things don’t go well, you try to complicate things and that’s the wrong thing to do. You’ve got to simplify them.”

And the simple fact is the Stars, who have lost three of their last four games and six of their last nine, have to win Tuesday.
The Dallas Stars are on the outside looking in at a playoff spot for the first time in more than a month. Saturday was not a good night for the Stars. Among those Pacific Division teams battling for the third, seventh and eighth spots, they were the only team not to get points.

Their 3-0 loss to the Sharks dropped them down to ninth, one point behind the now eighth place Sharks. Tuesday is basically a must-win game for the Stars. The Sharks need the win, too. It’s not like they are out of the woods because they won Saturday.

The Kings lost in a shootout to Minnesota Saturday, but the point they picked up kept them in first in the Pacific Division. Phoenix, a 4-0 winner over Anaheim Saturday, tied the Kings at 91 points. Both teams have 33 regulation/overtime wins, so it went to the next tiebreaker, which is the head-to-head matchup. Both teams won three games, but the Kings were 3-1-2 and the Coyotes were 3-2-1 and the Kings win the series 8 points to 7 points. And people wonder why I put the records for the season series and not just the wins in game previews.

But the bottom line is the race is still tight. None of those four teams has anything secured yet and none of them is out of the picture yet. The standings have shifted a lot this past week and they can shift a lot over this final week.

Some other notes from Saturday night:

*Chicago clinched a playoff spot with a 5-4 victory over Nashville.

*Vancouver took over the top spot in the West, beating Calgary 3-2 in overtime and getting some help from Columbus, which beat St. Louis 5-2.

*The Flames, by the way, were officially eliminated from the playoff race with the OT loss to the Canucks.

There’s still a pretty good battle for that fourth seed and home ice in the first round. Detroit and Chicago both are one point behind Nashville. Detroit hosts Florida Sunday and Chicago hosts Minnesota.






With three games left in the season the Dallas Stars are now on the outside looking in at a playoff spot. The Stars fell to ninth place in the Western Conference Saturday, falling 3-0 to the Sharks in San Jose.

The Sharks, who entered the game one point behind the Stars, started strong, scoring in the first minute of the game and controlling play for most of the night.

“We needed to put more pucks on their net, create some more residual chances there. They had a lot of jump and did it to us,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. “They got that one early and it kind of set us back. The early jump was kind of the difference.”

Sharks center Joe Thornton set up a wide open Joe Pavelski, who beat Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen with a shot from the slot just 58 seconds into the game to give San Jose an early 1-0 lead.

The Stars put the Sharks on three power play s in the first period and San Jose cashed in on the third one. Martin Havlat set up Jason Demers, who scored from the left circle late in the period to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead.

It was not the first period the Stars needed.

“Our start, for one thing. I think they doubled up on us in shots early in the game. We wanted to be disciplined and stay out of the penalty box. We didn’t do that. They made us pay on the power play,” Stars captain Brenden Morrow said. “Playing with more desperation. Our backs are against the wall. It was kind of a must win for us and we didn’t get the start we needed.”

Pavelski added another goal in the second period. Antti Niemi stopped a total of 22 shots for the Sharks, who outshot the Stars 34-22 in the game.

“It was the biggest game of the year for us,” Thornton said. “We started well and I though we competed hard all the way through. It was a good job by us.”

The Stars have lost six of their last nine games and went 1-3-0 on their just concluded four-game road trip. They fell to 1-11-2 in the second games of back-to backs.

“I was a little bit worried about this game coming in. We’ve never been good in back-to-backs,” Gulutzan said. “The whole road trip, I was most disappointed with the Calgary game (5-4 loss). We’d be sitting in a different situation in a winnable hockey game.”

The Stars are one point behind the eighth place Sharks, who will be at American Airlines Center Tuesday to conclude the home-and-home series.

“We’ve got to move on. We’ve got a big game against this team Tuesday,” Gulutzan said. “Our fate is in our own hands, still, and at this juncture of the season that is what you have to focus on.”

The Stars have three games remaining and it’s a tough schedule. They host San Jose onTuesday, play at Nashville on Thursday and then wrap up the season with a game against St. Louis on Saturday at American Airlines Center.

“We are where we are and, like I said, we still control our own destiny,” Gulutzan said. “We don’t need someone to beat somebody else. We just need to win our last three games.”

And that quest starts Tuesday with the rematch against the Sharks.

“We’ve just got to bounce back,” Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas said. “We’ve got to learn from what we did wrong tonight. We’re playing the same team, so it should be fresh in our memory. It won’t be a different system, we know how they play and what they’re trying to do. It’s a good team, but it’s a team we can beat.”

Notes

*Stars defenseman Mark Fistric returned to the lineup after missing the last five games with an abdominal strain.

*Stars forward Toby Petersen was in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the past 15 games. He played 4:46 in the game.

*Radek Dvorak (ankle), Eric Nystrom (leg) and Tom Wandell (illness) were out for Dallas.

*Reilly Smith, Adam Pardy and Jordie Benn were healthy scratches for Dallas.

Stars drop to ninth after loss to Sharks

March, 31, 2012
3/31/12
10:21
PM CT


The Dallas Stars fell to ninth place in the Western Conference after a 3-0 loss in San Jose on Saturday night and trail the eighth-place Sharks by a point. The two teams meet again Tuesday in Dallas.

The loss was the sixth in the last nine games for the Stars, who were outshot 34-22. The Stars, who have three games left, trail seventh-place Phoenix by two points. The Stars also trail Pacific Division leader Los Angeles by two points.

Joe Pavelski scored two goals for San Jose. Sharks goalie Antti Niemi stopped 22 shots for his sixth shutout of the season. Kari Lehtonen made 31 saves for Dallas.

First period

The Sharks struck in the first minute of the game to take a 1-0 lead. Joe Thornton sent the puck into the slot to Joe Pavelski, who whipped the puck past Kari Lehtonen at the 58 second mark.

The Sharks had three power plays in the period and cashed in on the third one to take a 2-0 lead late in the period. Martin Havlat sent a pass across the crease to Jason Demers, who scored from the right circle with 1:22 left in the first.

The Stars had one power play in the period and had a great scoring chance, but Justin Braun got a stick on Michael Ryder’s attempt on a wide open side of the net.

The Sharks outshot the Stars 12-6 in the period.

Second period

The Sharks extended their lead to 3-0 with a goal while the teams were playing at four-on-four. Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s shot from the point was tipped home by Joe Pavelski at the 9:39 mark of the second.

Stars coach Glen Gulutzan did a lot of line juggling in the second and the Stars did create some chances late in the period, but Sharks goalie Antti Niemi made a couple of sharp saves to keep them off the board.

Stars forward Jake Dowell and Sharks forward Andrew Desjardins dropped the gloves in the period.

San Jose outshot the Stars 15-8 in the second and a 27-14 advantage through two periods.

Third period

There was no scoring in the period.

The Stars did kill of a lengthy San Jose five-on-three power play.

Stars forward Ryan Garbutt and San Jose’s Torrey Mitchell dropped the gloves in the period.

Stars lineup

Eriksson-Ribeiro-Ryder
Ott-Benn-Burish
Morrow-Dowell-Petersen
Garbutt-Fiddler-Vincour

Souray-Robidas
Fistric-Daley
Goligoski-Larsen

Lehtonen (starter)
Bachman
For the fifth time in the last nine days there’s been a change at the top of the Pacific Division. The new leader is the Los Angeles Kings, who won 4-1 at Edmonton last night to pass the Dallas Stars. The Kings are 8-2-0 over their last 10 games.

The Kings play at Minnesota on Saturday night, so they can hold that division lead with a win -- and move one step closer to securing a playoff spot.

The game of the night in the playoff race is Dallas at San Jose. The Stars dropped to seventh after their loss in Vancouver Friday night. They have a one point lead over the Sharks, who currently sit in ninth place. It’s a huge game for both teams. It’s a chance to gain points and take away points from a team you’re battling for a playoff spot. This is the first of a home-and-home series and both teams need the points, so that makes it all that much more intriguing.

The Coyotes, who are in eighth place in the West, host Anaheim Saturday night. The Coyotes are 2-3-0 against Anaheim this season, so it will be another chance for the Ducks to wreak some havoc in the race. A win for the Coyotes and they pick up points on whoever falls in the Stars-Sharks battle.

Colorado beat Calgary Friday night. That kept the Avalanche’s slim hopes alive and basically buried the Flames’ chances. Colorado has 88 points, but doesn’t play for the next five days and has only two games left. If the Avs win their final two games – home tilts against Columbus and Nashville – they’d hit 92 points. They’d have to hope for a lot of losing among those four Pacific Division teams to get in.

Calgary is at 85 points with three games left. They could max out at 91 points and even if they did, it’s not likely it would be enough to get them in.

Nashville beat Detroit Friday to take over fourth place in the West. The Predators now lead Detroit by one point. That’s a key spot since it brings home ice in the first round. And the Canucks are just one point behind St. Louis for first overall in the West. There’s still a lot of stuff to be decided.


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