SAN JOSE -- The Sharks will be in a familiar situation Tuesday night as another team, this time the Dallas Stars, comes to HP Pavilion fighting for its playoff life.

Although the Sharks almost are assured of being in the postseason, coach Todd McLellan would like to see some desperation find its way over to his team.

Entering Tuesday, the Sharks again need just one point to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Just as important to the Sharks, though, is re-establishing the principles of their game over the last three regular-season contests -- starting with Tuesday's home finale -- to carry some momentum into any potential first-round series.

"We worked really hard to get our game to a certain point to where it can be successful," McLellan said. "Now it's up to the group as a whole to maintain that, to continue to play that way. Not letting themselves off the hook, not taking breaks or moments off during the game.

"Dallas will push us, they'll challenge us. But I want tomorrow's game to be about us, not about Dallas."

The Sharks' 4-3 loss Sunday to the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are clinging to the eighth spot in the Western Conference, marked just the second time in this abbreviated regular season that the Sharks lost at home in regulation time.

The danger for the Sharks is letting the things that cost them against Columbus, such as starting slowly and turning the puck over in the defensive zone, carry over into Tuesday's game.


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Earlier in the season, the Sharks were guilty of letting losses pile up as they endured a seven-game winless skid in February and a four-game winless streak in March.

"We've played a better team game because of that," Sharks center Joe Pavelski said of the losing streaks. "One thing led to another earlier in the year, and now when we lose a game or two, we've been able to bounce back. That being said, it takes a lot of work to do it, and we need a big effort tomorrow night."

Any type of losing streak probably would cost the Sharks a chance at home-ice advantage in the first round. The Sharks play at Phoenix on Wednesday and close the regular season at Los Angeles on Saturday.

"The key for us is to play our game, get that going," Pavelski said. "We have to establish that early and usually when we get into trouble, we're getting away from that. So taking care of ourselves is the biggest thing, because we still have a lot to accomplish."

In their last game against Dallas, a 2-1 loss April 13 at American Airlines Center, the Sharks fell behind 2-0 in the first period and never totally recovered, even though they wound up outshooting Dallas 32-19.

Considering the Stars are three points out of a playoff spot with three games left, it's fair to assume they'll play as if their playoff hopes are riding on the outcome.

The key for the Sharks is to do the same.

"They're going to come out the same way Columbus did (Sunday) night," Sharks forward Adam Burish said. "You can't limp into games. Coming down the stretch, going into the playoffs, you have to be ready right away. You can't feel your way around. You have to make some noise early."

  • McLellan said defenseman Jason Demers, who did not play Sunday with a lower body injury and did not skate Monday, will also not play Tuesday night and is doubtful for Wednesday.