Stars begin crucial California trip versus Sharks

While the San Jose Sharks are going to need solid play from their goaltenders the rest of the way, the Dallas Stars want to serve notice that they're going to be a force down the stretch as they start one of two crucial road trips.

The Sharks welcome the Stars to SAP Center on Sunday evening for the first time in 2017-18.

San Jose absorbed its worst loss of the season when it fell 6-0 to Dallas on New Year's Eve. Tyler Pitlick scored twice, Radek Faksa collected three assists and Ben Bishop turned away 26 shots.

Neither Martin Jones nor Aaron Dell fared well for the Sharks. Jones gave up four goals on 22 shots through two periods, and Dell surrendered two goals on 10 shots.

Since that game, Dell has had the better record. In 10 games (nine starts), the Alberta native is 7-1-2 with a 3.05 goals-against average and .900 save percentage. Jones, meanwhile, is 4-6-2 with a 2.52 GAA and a .917 save percentage in 13 starts.

But Jones is coming off perhaps his finest effort of the season. He stopped 43 shots against his hometown-area team in a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night.

"Obviously, one of his best games of the year. We're going to need that down the stretch regularly from both our guys," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said.

Jones has split two career starts at SAP Center against Dallas, stopping 45 of 51 shots. Dell had a 29-save performance in his only home start against the Stars, a 5-1 victory on March 12.

Among current players, Joe Pavelski is San Jose's top scorer against Dallas with 43 points (19 goals, 24 assists) in 54 games. Logan Couture has nine goals in 29 games versus the Stars, including five on the power play and four game-winners.

Mikkel Boedker, who has goals in each of his last two games, hasn't registered a point in four career matchups when facing Dallas while with San Jose.

The Sharks (31-19-8) are 9-2-1 in their last 12 home games against the Stars.

The first visit of the season to Silicon Valley kicks off a three-game California trip for the Stars (34-20-4), who have already matched their win total from last season in the first year of Ken Hitchcock's second stint behind the bench.

"We've got to go out into California twice (over the remainder of the regular season), so we've got to put a seed of doubt in some teams here. All three teams are playoff teams right now. That's a tough nut," Hitchcock said Saturday.

The Stars, who are looking for their fourth straight road win, topped the St. Louis Blues 2-1 on Friday as Bishop came within 74 seconds of a shutout. Dallas and St. Louis each have 72 points.

"It's nice to beat a team that you're chasing (for a playoff spot), but it doesn't really change anything," Bishop said. "Now we go to the West Coast. The game against San Jose is just as important as it was tonight. ... It's tough to go out there and get wins. It's important we get off to a good start against San Jose."

Since blanking the Sharks, Bishop is 2-0-1 with a 1.63 GAA and a .938 save percentage in three road games. He also has the same record at the Shark Tank during his career, but his GAA jumps to 2.77 and his save percentage drops to .923.

Kari Lehtonen -- 5-0-0 with a 1.75 GAA and .940 save percentage in his last five starts -- is winless in his last four starts (0-2-2) with a 2.88 GAA and a .905 save percentage at SAP Center.

Jamie Benn is the Stars' best scorer in San Jose with six goals and six assists in 17 games. Mattias Janmark and Antoine Roussel each have two goals.

Benn, John Klingberg and Alexander Radulov are tied for the team lead with 53 points. Benn has 25 points on the road, four more than Klingberg and Radulov.

Ten of Tyler Seguin's team-high 29 goals have come away from Dallas. He's on the cusp of reaching 30 for the fourth time in his eight-year career.

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