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
”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.