Sharks-Stars Preview

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, making his fourth straight start for the

injured Kari Lehtonen, 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 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

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


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 has given up seven goals in two starts against the

Stars this season, meaning Antero Niittymaki may start. He lost his

only career start against Dallas, 3-0 on March 13, 2007 with


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 leads the club with 30 points and is tied with rookie Logan

Couture 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.