San Jose (15-11-5) at Dallas (18-10-2)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Dallas, TX
Temp: 79° F
  • Game info: 8:30 pm EST Thu Dec 16, 2010
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Dallas Stars are an unlikely co-leader in the Pacific Division at this point in the season. Another win against the San Jose Sharks may silence their doubters.

The Stars seek their second win in four days against the Sharks and third this season Thursday night in Dallas.

Andrew Raycroft(notes), making his fourth straight start for the injured Kari Lehtonen(notes), made 31 saves through overtime and two more in the shootout to help Dallas (18-10-2) to a 3-2 victory over San Jose on Monday.

“If you don’t guess right it can make you look ugly,” Raycroft said of the tiebreaker.

Mike Ribeiro(notes) scored his fifth goal and third against the Sharks this season. He scored twice, including in overtime of the Stars’ 5-4 victory Nov. 18.

“It was a good divisional game,” Sharks captain Joe Thornton(notes) said after Monday’s loss. “There was a lot of passion on the ice. It’s the kind of game you wish you could play forever. They are a good defensive team and do a good job of being in the shooting lanes.”

Raycroft, who earned his first career victory against San Jose, improved to 5-3-0 with a 2.31 goals-against average in his first season with Dallas.

“Andrew showed he’s a professional,” coach Marc Crawford said of the 2004 Calder Trophy winner. “He made a couple of huge saves for us. He keeps showing the ability to rise to the occasion.”

Crawford said he’ll decide before the game whether to start Raycroft or Lehtonen, who beat the Sharks last month and may be recovered from a sore back. Lehtonen is 2-0-0 with a 2.93 GAA in two starts against the Sharks since Dallas acquired him from Atlanta in February.

It may not matter who is in net since San Jose (15-10-5) has had trouble beating most goaltenders lately. The Sharks have lost three of four and scored three or fewer goals in each game.

San Jose is coming off a 3-2 loss Wednesday to Nashville, blowing a 2-1 lead by giving up two goals 44 seconds apart late in the third period. Coach Todd McLellan attributed a lack of focus to the breakdown.

“Even after it goes 2-2 we should have enough poise and enough composure to manage the game properly to get it to overtime and see what happens there,” he said. “Our game management was poor at the end. It’s unacceptable.”

Antti Niemi(notes) has given up seven goals in two starts against the Stars this season, meaning Antero Niittymaki(notes) may start. He lost his only career start against Dallas, 3-0 on March 13, 2007 with Philadelphia.

Thornton has 12 goals and 31 assists in 45 career games against the Stars and an assist in five of the last six meetings. Dany Heatley(notes) leads the club with 30 points and is tied with rookie Logan Couture(notes) for the team high with 14 goals, but has one assist versus the Stars this season.

The Stars have won the last three meetings with San Jose at the American Airlines Center.

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Thursday, Dec 16