The Sharks (20-11-4, 3rd Pacific) ring out 2017 in Dallas tonight, starting a nine day road trip with a visit to the Stars (21-15-3, 4th Central). The Stars have been up and down for most of the season, but their home record of 13-4-1 is something to be reckoned with. This past off season saw the Stars go through a not insignificant makeover, acquiring goaltender Ben Bishop, winger Alex Radulov and, perhaps most importantly, head coach Ken Hitchcock.
Hitchcock's trademark defensive style and Bishop's play seem to have had an effect on last year's fire wagon Stars. After finishing last season ranked 29th in goals against per game (3.17), they have rocketed up to 16th half way through this year (2.85). Bishop's home record of 12-3-1, goals against average of 2.08, and save percentage of .929 have probably had a little to do with that. Add in that Bishop is making his seventh straight start tonight, and looking for a fourth straight win at home, and Sharks goals could be pretty hard to come by.
Luckily, the Sharks' offense lately has not been the struggle to which we've grown accustomed. With Logan Couture sidelined with a concussion, the Sharks have gone 3-1-0, and received contributions from a few names that had struggled earlier. Norris trophy winner Brent Burns has two goals and seven points in five games, Kevin Labanc has one goal and seven points in four games, captain Joe Pavelski has two goals and six points in five games, and ageless wonder Joe Thornton has three goals and ten points in ten games. Thornton now leads the Sharks in points at 26, and is three points away from tying Adam Oates on the all time points list for 17th place at 1420.
The Sharks have won their last three games, most recently a 3-2 shoot out win over the Calgary Flames Thursday night, thanks to goals from Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi. The Stars are coming off of a win of their own, a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Friday. While head coach Peter DeBoer says Couture is a game time decision tonight, signs point to his playing. Couture skated in full practice this morning, and the Stars had him on their board at warm up, signalling that they expect him to play as well.
Let's end this year on a positive note, hey, boys?
Tomas Hertl -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski
Melker Karlsson -- Logan Couture -- Kevin Labanc
Timo Meier -- Chris Tierney -- Joonas Donskoi
Marcus Sorensen -- Joel Ward -- Mikkel Boedker
Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon -- Brent Burns
Joakim Ryan -- Dylan DeMelo
Scratched: Tim Heed, Paul Martin, Jannik Hansen
Injured: Barclay Goodrow (lower body)
We think Couture will play tonight, but until the pregame skate, we won't know whose place he takes, so take this line up with a grain of salt or ten.
Jamie Benn -- Tyler Seguin -- Devin Shore
Mattias Janmark -- Gemel Smith -- Alexander Radulov
Antoine Roussel -- Radek Faksa -- Tyler Pitlick
Remi Elie -- Jason Spezza -- Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell -- John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis -- Greg Pateryn
Stephen Johns -- Julius Honka
Scratched: Jason Dickinson
Injured: Marc Methot (knee), Martin Hanzal (lower body)
Methot and Hanzal are close, Stars fans can look to one or both of them returning to action on Tuesday.
Where to watch
Broadcast: NBCSCA, FS-SW+
Stream: NHL.tv / NHL App
Radio: 98.5 KFOX / NHL App / Sharks App