(Updated: UPDATES third sentence)
The San Jose Sharks’ lead in the Pacific Division has dwindled of late, but they have an opportunity to build it back up beginning with the opener of their four-game road trip Monday against the Dallas Stars. The Sharks completed a 3-3-0 homestand with back-to-back losses and saw their advantage over Anaheim shrink to four points with Saturday’s 2-1 setback against the Ducks but can double it as they play two games before their rivals take the ice again.
Logan Couture scored the lone goal in Saturday’s defeat for San Jose, which also is being chased for the Pacific crown by Calgary (five points behind) and Edmonton (six points behind). Dallas, which finished first in the Central Division last season but will miss the playoffs for the seventh time in nine campaigns, returns home from a four-game road trip during which it posted just one victory. The Stars scored a total of seven goals on the trek, which began with a 5-1 loss at San Jose on March 12. The Sharks are visiting the Stars twice in a five-day span, as they return to Dallas on Friday.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, CSN California (San Jose), FSN Southwest (Dallas)
ABOUT THE SHARKS (42-22-7): Couture has been on an offensive assault of late, recording two goals and four assists during his current four-game point streak while being kept off the scoresheet for consecutive contests just once (two games) since Jan. 19. The 27-year-old, who appeared in his 500th NHL game Saturday, is three assists shy of 200 for his career. San Jose - which also assigned Ryan Carpenter to their American Hockey League affiliate - recalled forwards Timo Meier and Danny O‘Regan from the Barracuda in the wake of Saturday’s undisclosed injury to Jannik Hansen, who is traveling with the team but is day-to-day.
ABOUT THE STARS (28-33-10): Dallas could be without its second- and third-leading scorers Monday as both are dealing with injuries. Captain Jamie Benn, who is tied with Tyler Seguin for first on the team at 24 goals but trails him by five points with 63, is questionable after missing Friday’s game with an eye injury while Jason Spezza, who is even with defenseman John Klingberg for third on the club with 42 points, is considered doubtful by coach Lindy Ruff after leaving Sunday’s practice with back spasms. Seguin, who has gone five games without an assist, is three away from tying the career high of 47 he set in 2013-14.
1. Sharks C Joe Thornton is two points away from tying Brett Hull (1,391) for 22nd place on the NHL’s all-time list.
2. Dallas RW Patrick Sharp has gone five games without a point, keeping him stuck on 599 for his career.
3. San Jose has been limited to one goal in each of its last five losses.
PREDICTION: Sharks 4, Stars 1