Sharks, Stars square off again
DALLAS — Even though the San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars haven’t been Pacific Division bunkmates since the 2012-2013 season, their rivalry, which will be renewed Friday at American Airlines Center, remains a healthy one.
On Nov. 8, Dallas (15-10-3, 33 points) hosted San Jose and edged the Sharks 4-3.
This time around, the Stars are coming off a 4-1 win at home against Edmonton and former Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock on Monday and are 9-3-2 on home ice.
“We’re going to have a good effort tomorrow night (Friday) just because we’re rested up,” Stars first-year coach Jim Montgomery said after practice Thursday. “You could tell in practice today (Thursday) that we had a lot of jump.”
Dallas, which has won three straight games, also figures to get a nice boost from the season debut of veteran forward Martin Hanzal, who has been sidelined since March after having spinal fusion surgery.
“I expect him to help us right away,” Montgomery said of Hanzal. “Do I expect him to be crisp and sharp? No, he’s got to get into it. The more he gets into a rhythm here, the better we’re going to be as a hockey team.”
The Stars have had the rare benefit of several good practice days since their last game at the beginning of the week.
And Montgomery was pleased with what he saw from his team in practice on Thursday morning.
“Today (Thursday), we were working on some puck possession and timing and spacing, offensive zone and neutral zone,” Montgomery said. “That was the focus.”
Ben Bishop will start in goal for Dallas.
San Jose (14-10-5, 33 points) defeated Carolina 5-1 on Wednesday at SAP Center, a nice bounce-back performance after the Sharks went 1-4-0 on a five-game road trip and were outscored 21-9.
“Yeah, it was a good game,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said postgame. “I was a little worried about our energy the first game back, but we got off to a quick start, got that first goal, which was huge. We had some bounces tonight, which we haven’t gotten a lot of lately and (Martin Jones) was great (in goal). It wasn’t a textbook game, but there was a lot of good stuff.”
The Sharks, who have now won two straight and are 5-7-3 on the road, were buoyed by the return of forward Timo Meier, out the previous three games with an upper-body injury.
Meier had a goal and two assists in the victory.
“Yeah, it felt great (to be back),” Meier said. “It was important to get healthy. I was obviously real excited to be playing again. I had a lot of energy today (Wednesday) and think we played a great game overall.”
Sharks franchise icon Joe Thornton added three assists, giving him 1,038 for his career. Thornton needs two assists to tie Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne for 10th all-time with 1,040 helpers.
These former division rivals meet once more in the regular season, next Thursday in San Jose.