DALLAS -– The long layoffs will end for two Sharks on Saturday night in Dallas.
Goalie Alex Stalock and defenseman Matt Irwin will both draw back into the lineup against the Stars, and both will be playing for the first time since Oct. 25 against Buffalo, two weeks ago.
Stalock will be making his fifth start of the season. He owns a solid 2.22 goals-against average and .924 save percentage, but has just one win on the year, a 3-0 shutout all the way back on Oct. 11 in the home opener against Winnipeg.
He struggled with his puck control in a 4-0 loss to the Rangers on Oct. 19, while the third period game-winner he allowed in a 2-1 loss to Buffalo came on a loose puck that squeaked through his left arm off of the stick of Cody McCormick.
“A save here and a save there, that makes a difference every night,” said Stalock, who is 2-0 with a 1.42 GAA and .954 SP in his career against the Stars. “Now, it’s time to make the saves you’re supposed to make.”
Antti Niemi has played every minute of the last five Sharks games, with generally good results, in earning back the number one position. It’s likely he’ll play in the second of the back-to-backs in Chicago on Sunday.
“He’s been patient and been waiting for the puck, and controlling rebounds and controlling play. He’s looked great,” Stalock said. “He’ll get a break tonight and hopefully keep it rolling.”
Irwin has two goals, one assist and a -6 rating in seven games this season. He was a healthy scratch in the first two games, and played in the next seven before coming out again. He’ll likely be paired with Jason Demers, with Scott Hannan sitting.
“Matty Irwin is more of a concern for us than Al is, as far as the layoff and not playing many games,” Todd McLellan said. “He’ll draw back in tonight and we’ll need him moving forward.”
What has Irwin been working on for the last two weeks?
“It’s been a lot of the same stuff that I’ve been doing previously when I haven’t been playing. It’s just coming to the rink with a good attitude, working hard in practice, just trying to get better, work on the shot, work on my feet, and just have good consistent practices,” he said.
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Stalock is expected to oppose Dallas’ Anders Lindback (0-2-0, 4.58 GAA, .850 SP) in net.
Tye McGinn will replace Barclay Goodrow on the fourth line with Adam Burish and Andrew Desjardins.
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Mike Brown is on the road trip and skated on his own without any pads on Saturday morning, but he's still a long way off from returning.
“He had some of his bandages or casts removed, so he’s making progress, but we don’t expect him in our lineup for awhile," McLellan said.
Brown blocked a shot on Oct. 11 in the second game of the season, and has been out ever since.