SAN JOSE -- Exactly one month ago, Sharks forward Brent Burns scored the last of his 14 goals this season.
That's a 14-game drought for a player whose offensive presence was a given early in the season when he notched eight goals in his first 12 games sandwiched around 13 missed because of a facial injury. But the fact that Burns continues to get chances and has fired 25 shots on net in his past four games is helping him get through this tough period.
"I need to score -- I'm not saying I don't need to -- but it's not for lack of effort, lack of chances," Burns said Tuesday. "Last night I hit the post and put it right where I wanted it. It's not like I fanned on it -- I hit all of it. I think it's part of hockey. It's a test of the old willpower, I guess."
Burns talked about the need to make other contributions on the ice when he isn't scoring, whether it's physical play or the backhand pass that set up linemate Matt Nieto for his second goal in Monday night's 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Todd McLellan has criticized Burns' helter-skelter style of play in the past when the coach thinks his 6-foot-5, 230-pound converted defenseman may be skating too fast because he skates through scoring opportunities. But McLellan doesn't see that as an issue now.
"He is a streaky scorer," he said of Burns. "We've seen that in the past, so it's not unusual. We'd like the non-goal streaks to get condensed, obviously, and be a lot smaller. The last few games, I see him positioning himself better, releasing the puck better, shooting it again like he needs to."
Burns earned some notoriety during his time with the Minnesota Wild for bringing more than 150 snakes into his household to help overcome his fear of them. But he's not being literal when he acknowledges he's also been a little bit snakebit lately.
"What else do you call it?" he said "At the end of the day, if you're working hard, you can sleep at night. Obviously you sleep a little better when you're scoring, but I still sleep pretty good at night. The team needs me to score. I've just got to keep working."
"Once you go back and you watch it and you zero in and highlight individuals, it can be pretty sobering," he said.
On the ice, the emphasis was on play through the neutral zone and into the defensive end of the rink as McLellan hopes to get his team back on track in the two games remaining before its 20-day Olympic break between games.
"Nobody wants to carry a bad taste in their mouths going into the break," he said. "Whatever we do over those next two nights is going to be the flavor we leave with."
Defenseman Jason Demers has missed the past two games with a groin pull but skated Tuesday and said he thought he was ready to go against the Stars. McLellan said forward Tyler Kennedy was also ready to return from the lower body injury that has kept him out of the past three games.
And forward Adam Burish, who has missed the entire season after having back surgery to repair a herniated disk suffered in an exhibition game, was at a doctor's office seeking final clearance to play.
The Sharks also reassigned forward Eriah Hayes to Worcester.
Dallas (26-21-9) at Sharks (35-16-6), 7:30 p.m. CSNCA