San Jose looks to remain the only Western Conference team without a regulation home loss Thursday night when it meets the Dallas Stars for the first time this season.
The Sharks have jumped out to a 13-4-2 record, one season after winning the Presidents’ Trophy with 117 points and getting upset by Anaheim in the first round of the playoffs. They’re 6-0-1 at HP Pavilion.
San Jose is unbeaten in its last nine overall (8-0-1), rallying to defeat Nashville 4-3 at home Tuesday night. Dan Boyle(notes) scored with a minute left in the third period, and Joe Pavelski(notes), Jamie McGinn(notes) and Devin Setoguchi(notes) also scored for the Sharks, who trailed 3-2 with just over 10 minutes remaining.
“They frustrated us early and got the puck behind the defense,” center Scott Nichol(notes) said. “We got some timely goals from good players. We kind of grunted this one out. We’re going to have games like this and it’s a good lesson.”
Pavelski, a fourth-year center who set career highs with 25 goals and 34 assists last season, was out five weeks after breaking his foot while blocking a shot against the Ducks on Oct. 3. He returned Saturday and scored his first goal of the season in a 5-0 win over Pittsburgh.
Setoguchi, who also put up career bests in 2008-09 with 31 goals and 34 assists, was back on the ice Tuesday for the first time in seven games and scored the tying goal with 6:34 left.
He was out with a lower-body injury, as was right wing Ryan Vesce(notes) until he returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing seven games. Vesce scored three goals and had an assist in his first four contests before getting hurt.
Dallas (7-4-6) also has received some good news on the injury front, as James Neal(notes) - tops on the team with nine goals - is expected to return Thursday after missing the last two games because of a groin pull.
The 22-year-old left wing practiced Tuesday.
“I’ve had four days off, so it felt good to get back on the ice,” Neal told the Stars’ official Web site. “I was only going to go out for half of the practice but it felt better than I thought so I stayed out there for the whole thing.”
Without Neal, the Stars beat Vancouver 2-1 at home Friday - their only win in the last five games - before losing 3-2 to Minnesota the following night in the first of four straight on the road. Dallas is 4-2-3 away from home.
“It’s just a matter of playing without pressure,” defenseman Stephane Robidas(notes) said. “We just work hard and are more defensive when we’re on the road. Maybe at home we’re trying to put on a show a little more, and I think that’s why we’ve had success on the road.”
Dallas hasn’t had much success in San Jose lately, losing three of four.
“It’s a tough building to play in,” Robidas said. “I don’t think they’ve lost a game so far at home. … We’re going in there with positive thoughts, and we’re ready to get a big win.”
The Sharks went 5-1-0 against the Stars in 2008-09 to take the season series for the first time in nine years.