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HOCKEY

Sharks aim to get on track on the road vs. Stars

The last time the Sharks hit the road, they began an ongoing slide that has knocked the club out of first place in the Pacific Division.

San Jose opens up its latest road trip against the division's current leader, the Dallas Stars.

The Sharks have lost 10 of their past 13 games, a span that began with a 2-6-1 road trip from Feb. 12-26. San Jose returned home from that swing to beat Philadelphia, 1-0, on Feb. 28, but went on to drop the final three games of the homestand.

With 74 points, the Sharks now find themselves in a three-way tie with the Kings and Avalanche for the eighth spot in the Western Conference. San Jose, which trails the first-place Stars by three points, do have a game in hand over the Kings and three on the Avalanche. All three clubs are in action tonight.

San Jose saw head coach Todd McLellan return to the bench on Tuesday night versus Edmonton after he had missed three straight games because of concussion-like symptoms suffered when he was accidentally hit on the head by a stick versus Minnesota on Feb 26. His return was spoiled just 10 seconds in as the Oilers scored en route to a 3-2 shootout decision.

Antti Niemi made 24 saves and allowed the only goal of the shootout, while Jim Vandermeer and Ryane Clowe lit the lamp. The Sharks were held to just four goals over their homestand.

"Painful obviously. I don't know how you want me to answer that any other way than that," McLellan said of the lost point. "It's an important point now.

"We played well enough to get a point and just poor enough to lose one."

San Jose opens up a four-game swing in Dallas, taking on a Stars team that wrapped up a perfect three-game road trip with a 5-2 triumph over the Canucks on Tuesday. The victory also extended Dallas' point streak to eight straight games (7-0-1) since its last regulation loss on Feb. 19 versus Nashville.

Mike Ribeiro paced the offense on Tuesday with a pair of goals and an assist, while Loui Eriksson and Stephane Robidas tallied and had an assist each. Jamie Benn also scored and Michael Ryder extended his point streak to seven consecutive games (5 goals, 4 assists) with a pair of helpers.

Backup goaltender Richard Bachman made 29 saves in the victory.

"We just stuck with our game plan and kept pushing forward," said Ribeiro, who has 15 points over his last 11 games. "It's a team concept right now, and everyone's doing the right thing."

The victory has the Stars two points clear of the Coyotes in the division. Phoenix hosts Minnesota this evening.

The Stars have dropped five in a row to the Sharks, including three of the six scheduled meetings this season. San Jose opened the series with a 4-1 win at Dallas in November before posting 5-2 wins at home.

The Sharks have won three straight in Dallas.