The Dallas Stars couldn’t get a win in the final game of their road trip, but they did pick up a point in a 2-1 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks Wednesday night at SAP Center. The point pulled the Stars, who finished their road trip 2-0-1, to within one point of the final wild card playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“It was a good point,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “If you let go of the sting of the extra point, and take a look at the road trip, getting five of six points and playing the way we did, you’ve got to be happy.”
The Stars, playing on the second night of a back-to-back, rolled out a solid game. They survived an early push from San Jose and held the Sharks, who came into the game leading the league in shots per game (35) to just 21, including none for most of the third period. They overcame a 1-0 deficit, getting a goal from Valeri Nichushkin early in the third period to tie the game. The penalty kill delivered two big kills late in the game when San Jose had chances to win it in regulation on the power play.
“They come out hard and it was nice that we were able to keep it 0-0 the first period. That’s always kind of the goal. After that, I think we played better than them,” said Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 19 of 21 shots. “It was a good comeback but it still hurts, hurts to lose.”
San Jose, which won for just the second time in the last six games (2-4-0) got the overtime winner from Tommy Wingels, who got open in front of the Dallas net and scored from close range 1:52 into the extra period.
"I thought our forecheck was a lot better tonight creating opportunities,” said Wingels. “Still not as many shots or scoring chances as we would like. Is every game going to be four or five goals? No, but we can't have one or two for this long-- it's something we never talked about, but we're still happy with the win and we have [to win] one more before the break."
The two teams played a scoreless first period. The Sharks had some good early pressure, but weren’t able to get anything by Lehtonen, who was sharp in goal over the first 20 minutes. The Stars had their best chance with 6:28 left in the period, but Sharks goaltender Alex Stalock made a slick glove save on Jamie Benn’s shot from the bottom of the right circle.
Neither team was able to generate much in the second period until the Sharks finally got the game’s first goal late in the frame. Scott Hannan put a shot on net from the point and Martin Havlat tipped it past Lehtonen to put San Jose ahead 1-0 with 1:54 left in the second.
The Stars drew even at the 6:27 mark of the third when Trevor Daley set up Nichushkin, who whipped the puck into the net from the slot to make it a 1-1 game.
The Stars’ penalty kill came up big, thwarting two San Jose power plays in the final half of the third period to keep it a 1-1 game.
“I thought our penalty kill was fabulous. It really was,” said Ruff. “They were aggressive. It was like a dog on a bone. They were relentless. It almost looked like we were going to have the better opportunities killing.”
That helped get the game to overtime, getting the Stars an important point in the playoff race.
“When you come in this building, it’s always going to be a tough night, especially on a back-to-back,” said Stars defenseman Jordie Benn. “So we just wanted to come in here and keep things pretty simple, work hard and I guess we stole one point. Two would have been nice, but we got one.”
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