Stars-Sharks Preview

The Associated Press

The Dallas Stars' best work this season has come against their former division, the Pacific.

They'll try to improve on a 7-2-1 record against those foes Saturday night when they visit a San Jose Sharks team that doesn't give away many points at home.

The Stars (17-12-5) beat Vancouver 4-1 on Thursday for their first back-to-back victories since Nov. 17. They've won three of four and recognize a month between winning streaks won't get them anywhere in the Central Division, which they moved to this season as part of the league's realignment from six divisions to four.

"We can't be a team that is going to win three, lose two, lose three and win one," forward Erik Cole told the team's official website. "You're not going to gain any ground, especially in the West. We all know what a big stretch of games this is against all these teams that we are chasing. It's nice that we were able to get another two here at home, especially where we have struggled."

Cole had a goal and two assists against the Canucks while Tyler Seguin added two assists to give him eight points in four games.

Jamie Benn and Colton Sceviour scored in the first five minutes to give the Stars a 2-0 lead against a team that came in with a 7-0-1 record in December.

"That was a real good win for us," coach Lindy Ruff said. "We got off to real good start."

Benn has three goals in four games after going 11 contests without one. The Stars are 8-0-0 when he scores.

Kari Lehtonen made 28 saves to earn his 100th win for the Stars, and he held an opponent to fewer three goals for the first time in seven games. He had gone 2-3-1 with a 4.17 goals-against average in his previous six and allowed 10 goals in his previous two starts.

"I've had a rough go the last couple of weeks, so it's nice to have a good game," Lehtonen said. "That made me more relaxed."

Lehtonen hasn't done well against the Sharks in his career, going 5-7-1 with a 3.54 GAA in 13 starts.

The Stars, however, have won four of five against the Sharks, the most recent a 4-3 shootout home win Oct. 17. Dallas, though, is 1-5-0 in its last six trips to San Jose, getting outscored 26-11.

The Sharks (21-8-6) lost 4-1 at Los Angeles on Thursday and are 2-5-1 in their last eight, managing three or fewer goals seven times in that span.

"Whether we're squeezing the sticks too tight, or whatever term you want to use, eventually for us to be successful, they have to produce," coach Todd McLellan said.

Patrick Marleau scored against the Kings and has two goals and three assists during a three-game point streak.

Despite the recent struggles, San Jose's 11-1-3 home record is among the best in the league.

The Sharks could be without rookie center Tomas Hertl on Saturday after he took a knee-to-knee hit against the Kings and did not return. He leads all rookies with 15 goals and 25 points.

"Obviously he didn't return, so it's not a good thing," McLellan said.

San Jose recalled forward Matt Nieto from San Francisco of the ECHL on Friday.

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