April 05, 2015

Over the course of three days, the Dallas Stars went from dominating one of the league's elite clubs to looking far from postseason-ready in a loss to a team that won't be participating in the playoffs.

During that defeat, the San Jose Sharks simultaneously were blowing a two-goal lead and suffering a home loss to one of the Western Conference's worst teams.

Saturday's matchup in northern California provides an opportunity for one club to regain some confidence, while the other will have to answer more questions about how it's going to bounce back before the games become much more important.

The Stars (44-22-9) secured a postseason spot by scoring four times in the first period and routing Chicago 6-2 on the road Tuesday while 10 different players registered at least a point in their third straight victory.

Thursday's 3-1 loss at Arizona tempered that excitement as Dallas failed to pad its lead atop the conference. The league's highest-scoring team hadn't finished with fewer than two goals since a Feb. 16 loss to St. Louis, which is threatening to overtake Dallas atop the West.

The Stars also don't have Tyler Seguin, who suffered a cut to his Achilles' tendon March 17 and will be out for at least the rest of the regular season.

"I think our concern should be ourselves, our locker room and our team game and fine tune some things going into the playoffs," said forward Patrick Sharp, who has one goal in his last 28 games. "It's going to be a good test here these next seven or eight games. We've got some tough teams coming in. We know we're going to the playoffs and we want to make sure we are playing our best hockey these next few weeks."

The Sharks (41-27-6) have squandered their last two chances to secure a playoff spot, dropping to 16-17-3 at SAP Center in the process for one of the worst home records among postseason contenders in either conference.

After falling 1-0 to the Blues on Tuesday, the Sharks scored twice in the first before allowing four second-period goals in a 6-3 loss to Edmonton on Thursday. They also missed out on an opportunity to close in on Los Angeles and Anaheim in the Pacific after both lost that night.

San Jose sits five points behind the first-place Kings and two back of the Ducks.

''If the game had ended after 20 minutes I would have been pretty happy," coach Peter DeBoer said. "Unfortunately, you can't play 20 minutes in this league and expect to win. For whatever reason, from that point on we stopped playing.''

The Sharks have won eight of the last 10 home meetings with Dallas, including a 4-3 victory Jan. 16 on Tomas Hertl's overtime goal. Martin Jones was in net for that contest and could get the nod again after James Reimer allowed five goals against the Oilers.

Former Shark Antti Niemi made 26 saves in the Stars' 5-3 victory in the first matchup Oct. 31 before taking the loss in the most recent meeting. He hasn't started since March 12, though, as Kari Lehtonen has been in net for the last five.

It's unclear if Dallas will have defenseman Kris Russell, who sat out the last two with a lower-body injury.

San Jose hopes to have forward Joonas Donskoi after he left in the second period Thursday with an undisclosed injury and didn't return.

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