Stars-Sharks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 31, 2012
With another disheartening loss, the Dallas Stars dropped out of the Pacific Division lead and toward the bottom of the Western Conference playoff picture. The San Jose Sharks experienced a similar feeling earlier in the week. The wild race for the Pacific title gets more interesting as the slumping teams begin a crucial home-and-home series Saturday night at HP Pavilion. Dallas entered Friday atop the Pacific, but its 5-2 loss at Vancouver and Los Angeles' 4-1 win at Edmonton gave the Kings the division lead and sent the Stars (42-31-5) into a tie with Phoenix for the West's final two playoff spots. Dallas has lost three of its last four on the road and five of eight overall. "It puts a little bit more pressure on (Saturday's game)," captain Brenden Morrow told the team's official website. "They only get bigger after that. It puts more pressure on these next games. As hard as it is after a 5-2 loss you have to try and find something positive because we're going right back at it. You have to slap yourself in the butt a little bit and then park it and get ready for that next game in less than 24 hours." Steve Ott, who scored his 11th goal of the season Friday, said the playoffs have already begun for the Stars. "We need to find a way to regroup," Ott said. "We wanted to grab points. We had a pretty solid first period with a lot of scoring chances, but we couldn't capitalize. This is playoff hockey for us, and we've enjoyed it the last couple of months." The Sharks (39-29-10) held the Pacific lead earlier this week but fell 3-1 at Anaheim on Wednesday. They dropped out of the playoff picture with a 2-0 loss at Phoenix the following night in what captain Joe Thornton called "another heartbreaking loss." San Jose sits one point behind Dallas and Phoenix, but it could potentially jump back into the conference's top eight with a victory Saturday. Coach Todd McLellan said his team can't dwell on the past defeats. "I keep saying that we got to leave this behind and move on, but with four left we better make some hay quick,'' McLellan said. The Sharks will face the Stars again April 3 before ending the season with a home-and-home set against Los Angeles on April 5 and 7. Ryane Clowe, who scored in two straight games prior to Thursday, said each player needs to contribute. "If you've got 14 or 15 guys going this time of year, you're not going to win, especially against Dallas and L.A.," Clowe told the team's official website. "You need everyone. We have to have all four lines rolling, and we need the tenacity. We can get the grit up a bit." San Jose had won five straight meetings with Dallas before the Stars' 4-3 shootout victory in the most recent meeting March 8. Kari Lehtonen made 45 saves and stopped all four in the shootout to earn the victory, though it's unclear if he'll get the start on back-to-back nights after making 26 saves before being pulled midway through the third period of Friday's loss. Antti Niemi has gone 3-2-0 with a 1.79 goals-against average in his last five starts after making 31 saves in San Jose's loss Thursday. He's 4-0-1 with a 1.77 GAA in his past five starts versus Dallas.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Kobe Bryant has great response to Tyronn Lue story

Report: St. Louis Blues no longer interested in Jonathan Drouin

Doc Rivers: Warriors have 'swagger' of defending champion

Damian Lillard added as a finalist for 2016 U.S. Olympic Team

Celtics legend Paul Pierce prepares for what ‘could be’ his last game in Boston

Free-agent WR Josh Morgan accidentally shot himself, charged with crime


Jon Beason retires after nine NFL seasons

Brewers Association sends Peyton Manning case of craft beer

Report: Police recommend charges against LeSean McCoy

Heat interested in Kings’ 3-point specialist Omri Casspi

Rick Pitino thinks Louisville should be fined $10 million for scandal

Browns LB Armonty Bryant indicted on felony drug charge

Johnny Manziel’s grandpa on ex-girlfriend: ‘The girl has her problems’

Andy Dalton reunited with missing luggage thanks to social media

Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson used to soak his ankles in urine

Why Tom Thibodeau needs to be in New York

Defensemen in high demand as NHL trade deadline looms

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Security guard indicted for assaulting University of Houston football fan

The LeBron-Kobe rivalry and Finals matchup that never was

Mario Williams recognizes Bills may release him

Terrell Owens says Cris Carter 'begged his way' into HOF

QUIZ: Name every WWE Heavyweight Champion

Three NHL players who can cement their legacies like Peyton Manning

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker