The Dallas Stars take on the San Jose Sharks tonight in another key game in the tight Western Conference playoff race. The Sharks can clinch a playoff spot by picking up one point in the game. The Stars could really use two points as they battle for that final playoff spot in the West.
“This is how it’s been the last couple games. We know we have to win games and this is the biggest game of the year,” said Stars forward Loui Eriksson. “I think everyone is ready for it. It’s going to be fun tonight and we’re going to try to get two points. We need it.”
The Stars are three points behind No. 8 Columbus and two points behind No. 9 Detroit. A win tonight and the Stars will still continue to control their destiny when they return home to play Columbus and Detroit later this week to close out the regular season.
“We’re pretty loose. We’ve been loose for two or three weeks, but loose in a good way,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “There’s lots of good energy in here and we’re coming out tonight to compete. We look at tonight’s game that we’re coming out to let loose and see what happens.”
This will be the fourth and final meeting between the Stars and Sharks this season. The Stars have won the first three meetings.
“We’ve played good as a team against these guys, starting with our goalies who have been great,” said Stars center Jamie Benn. “From there on out our forward group and our defense have been working hard as a team.”
Added Gulutzan: “We have to use our speed against them. They are a big, strong team with a lot of skill, a lot of big players who have proven year after year to be successful. For us to be successful, the key is to limit the amount of time we spend in the (defensive) zone because they can create. We have to use our speed to get on them on the attack. I think that is what has given us some success against them, but they are such a dangerous team that we are going to have to be sharp tonight.”
Kari Lehtonen is in goal for the Stars.
Defenseman Trevor Daley didn’t skate this morning, but he will play tonight.
Alex Chiasson skated again. He is still out with a shoulder injury, but he is getting closer to a return.
“I think it’s been two days on the ice, I think just a light first day. He’s feeling better. We’ll see how he is for Thursday,” said Gulutzan.
Stars projected lineup