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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, December 21st (All times Eastern)

Dallas Stars (17-12-5) at San Jose Sharks (21-8-6), 10:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Stars hope to push their winning streak to three straight games on Saturday night as they visit the San Jose Sharks.

The Stars were last in action on Thursday, when they notched a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. It gave Dallas a win in three of its last four games, including back-to-back victories for the first time since a three-game run from Nov. 13-17.

Erik Cole paced the offense with a goal and two assists, while Kari Lehtonen made 27 saves to earn his 100th victory in a Dallas uniform.

Valeri Nichushkin, Jamie Benn and Colton Sceviour added goals for a Stars club looking to find some winning consistency.

"We can't be a team that's going to win three and lose two or lose three and win one," said Cole. "It's not going to gain any ground especially in the west. We all know what a big stretch of games this is against the opponents that we are playing. It's all teams we are chasing. It's nice we were able to get another two (points) here, especially at home where we've struggled."

Sceviour has been a spark in four games since being recalled from the minors on Dec. 9, netting the first three goals of his NHL career in that time. His goal on Thursday came 15 seconds after Benn scored to put Dallas up 2-0 less than five minutes into the game.

The Sharks, meanwhile, have lost six of their last eight and dropped a 4-1 decision to the hosting Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

Patrick Marleau scored a goal in his 1,200th career game and Antti Niemi gave up all four goals on 32 shots, though head coach Todd McLellan was putting the blame squarely on his goaltender.

"I think (Niemi) is like some others on our team, some go-to guys that have to step up. He knows that, we know it, his teammates know it. But we are talking about one individual who wears the (goalie) pads. There are some others who didn't have a very good night. The focus can't just go on him," said McLellan.

San Jose played most of the game without rookie Tomas Hertl, who exited with a bruised right knee after taking a knee-on-knee hit from Los Angeles' Dustin Brown late in the first period. Hertl has 15 goals and 25 points in 35 games this season.

According to a report by CSNBayArea.com, Hertl could miss a month of action due to the injury. Brown was ejected from the game but will not face further discipline from the league.

San Jose may have some revenge on its mind after having its season-opening seven-game winning streak snapped with a 4-3 shootout loss in Dallas on Oct. 17.

The Stars have won four of the past five meetings overall, but the Sharks are 5-0-1 in the last six played in San Jose.

Niemi is 9-4-5 with a 2.28 goals against average in his career versus the Stars, while Lehtonen is 5-7-1 with a 3.54 GAA when squaring off with the Sharks.

12/21 11:13:23 ET

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