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Stars Look For Fifth Straight Home Win, Host Sharks

(Sports Network) - The Dallas Stars seek a fifth straight home victory this evening at American Airlines Center as they host the San Jose Sharks, who are trying to best the Stars for the first time in three meetings this season.

Dallas is 9-0-1 in its last 10 at home, where it hasn't lost since a shootout setback to Colorado on Nov. 20 and not in regulation since Oct. 28 versus Los Angeles. The Stars are 11-3-1 at home overall this season.

The club returns home after Monday's 3-2 shootout victory over the Sharks. Brad Richards had the game-winner in the extra session and Andrew Raycroft finished with 31 saves for his first career victory versus the Sharks (1-5-0).

"It was a huge win for us. It was a great hockey game. It's probably the best atmosphere we've seen this year in a road game," Stars coach Marc Crawford said.

Mike Ribeiro had a goal and an assist while Jamie Benn scored the other goal for the Stars, who have won two of their last three overall.

Raycroft was making his fourth straight start with Kari Lehtonen still out with back issues. Lehtonen has been practicing and should at least return tonight in a back-up role with the Stars assigning netminder Richard Bachman on Wednesday.

"(The tightness) was there and I needed a couple of days to recoup, but I feel good," Lehtonen told Dallas' website on Wednesday. "I have a pretty good program of what I do every day before I go on the ice or when I come off the ice. Everything felt good today, so I'm excited about [Thursday]."

Brenden Morrow should also be able to play tonight after taking a puck off his face in Monday's game in the first period. Morrow returned to action in the second frame wearing a full-face shield.

Ryane Clowe and Derek Joslin each scored in the loss to the Stars and Antti Niemi made 29 saves. The Sharks then dropped their second game in a row last night with a 3-2 setback to Nashville. The Predators rallied for the victory in the third period with two goals in a 44-second span.

"We made some key mistakes at key times," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "They always say the most important shift is the one after a goal and they won that shift."

Niclas Wallin and Dany Heatley both scored goals for San Jose and Niemi made 32 saves.

Niemi has been in net for both losses to the Stars this year, including a 5-4 overtime setback in Dallas on Nov. 18. He is 2-1-2 with a 2.69 goals-against average versus the club, while Antero Niittymaki has faced the Stars just once and not since a loss on March 13, 2007. He gave up three goals on 33 shots in that one.

Dallas has won three straight and six of its last eight versus San Jose, including three in a row as the host.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.