SAN JOSE, Calif. - Just how much do Sharks fans dislike Dallas? Enough to boo the word "star" both times it's sung in the pre-game national anthem.
Yet home ice is no advantage for the San Jose Sharks in this lively rivalry. Mike Modano made himself at home away from home again Thursday night, and the Pacific Division race got another bit tighter.
Modano scored his second goal with 7:06 left, and the Stars improbably won in San Jose for the sixth straight time, 4-2 over the slumping Sharks.
Marty Turco made 28 saves, Niklas Hagman also scored and Jeff Halpern added an insurance goal with 2:09 remaining for the Stars, who won for just the third time in 10 games overall.
Though coach Dave Tippett still is trying to figure out what makes his club so inconsistent, Dallas' slumps are no match for a trip at the Shark Tank, where the Stars have won in all three visits this season - despite being winless in three games against the Sharks back home in Big D.
"Just call us the San Jose Stars," Modano said jokingly. "I don't know why we play so well (here). It's a great crowd. They're really supportive, and they really get into the game. They're fun to play in front of. It's usually a fun and revved-up game."
Modano became the NHL's leading American-born scorer with another two-goal game at the Shark Tank on Nov. 7. The veteran has just three multi-goal games all season, but he's plenty comfortable on San Jose's rutted ice.
"Our first couple of shifts, we weren't playing hard, and then it kicked in," Turco said. "When certain players begin to play hard, it's inspiring. It was a treat to watch us play."
The win pulled the Stars even with the Sharks in the division standings, just one point behind first-place Anaheim. Dallas finished up a five-game road trip with just two victories, but has a four-game homestand before next weekend's all-star break.
"It's weird how this series has gone," Tippett said. "I hope we can break the streak someday at home. It's a logjam at the top (of the division), and we're in the middle. It's going to continue to be a battle for spots."
Joe Thornton and Milan Michalek scored for the Sharks, who have lost three straight - all to division rivals - after winning seven of their previous eight. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 27 shots, but only Montreal has fewer home victories than the Sharks' eight.
"Again, we're struggling with our style of play at home," defenceman Craig Rivet said. "Right now, it's a bit lackadaisical. ... They worked harder, and they deserved it."
San Jose has three more home games before the all-star break, and several players cited this meeting with Dallas and Saturday night's visit from NHL-leading Detroit as an important measure of their progress.
"If we keep playing this way, we'll get the same results," Thornton said.
After Michalek and Hagman each scored their 16th goals in the first period, Modano put the Stars ahead late in the second on a fine pass from Loui Eriksson from behind the net. The goal snapped a nine-game drought for Modano.
Thornton tied it early in the third period when his attempt at a pass to Steve Bernier ricocheted off defenceman Matt Niskanen's stick and landed behind Turco. The goal was Thornton's second in two games after going 14 games without a goal.
Both teams had good scoring chances before Modano ripped his 14th goal of the season through traffic.
"A team like that, that's been on the road a while, you want to squeeze the life out of them, and we didn't get it done," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "You want to have a better performance, considering they're a little road-weary and probably a little desperate, and we didn't match it."
Notes: Stars D Sergei Zubov missed the third period after injuring his foot, Tippett said. ... Sharks D Craig Rivet pummelled Trevor Daley in a first-period fight instigated by the Dallas defenceman, who got 17 minutes in penalties. ... Nabokov, the soon-to-be all-star, started each of the club's first 43 games before getting a night off last Sunday at Anaheim. After rookie Thomas Greiss lost his NHL debut to the Ducks, Nabokov yielded five goals Tuesday in Phoenix during one of his worst starts of the season.