Down by one heading into the final stanza, San Jose erupted for three third-period goals, including two by rookie Devin Setoguchi, in its come-from-behind, 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on Monday.
Joe Pavelski and Steve Bernier also scored, Joe Thornton had two key assists, and Evgeni Nabokov steered aside 27 shots for the Sharks, who snapped a two-game losing streak to finish their road trip with a 2-2 mark. The Sharks had scored just two goals combined in their last two games.
Mike Ribeiro and Matt Niskanen scored for Dallas, which lost for the first time in regulation at home this season. The Stars also lost for only the second time in their last five games.
Mike Modano picked up an assist on Niskanen's first career goal in the second period and is now just one point shy of tying Phil Housley for the most points scored by a U.S.-born player. The 18-year veteran now has 1,231 career points.
"It's hard to pin-point just one thing. It's been tough for us to extend leads and we just don't get that one goal to extend the lead," Modano said. "We were playing cautious, and when you play like that, it's going to come back to haunt us."
It did just that on Monday.
Trailing 2-1 entering the third period, the Sharks took control following a critical two-minute span midway through the final frame. Nabokov first robbed Ribeiro's quick one-timer from in tight, got some help when Jere Lehtinen's backhand attempt on the power play rang off the post, and finally made a sprawling save when Jussi Jokinen broke in alone from the left circle and tried to slide the puck under the netminder.
The Sharks broke through a couple of minutes later when Setoguchi, playing in his first NHL game, picked up his first career goal that tied the score, 2-2, with just over eight minutes left in the third. Setoguchi, who was just called up on Sunday from San Jose's AHL farm team in Worcester, one-timed Thornton's pass from behind the Stars goal line, with the wicked shot eluding Dallas goalie Marty Turco. Thornton was able to still make the play while falling to the ice.
Just 2:34 later, Setoguchi, the eighth overall selection in the 2005 draft, and Thornton struck again in almost identical fashion. Thornton fed a pass out to Setoguchi from behind the goal line, but this time it was a nifty behind-the-back feed that Setoguchi once again one-timed from the low slot to make it 3-2.
The Sharks iced it 17 seconds later when forward Steve Bernier scored his third of the year when he wristed a shot from the right circle past a stunned Turco. Bernier was able to collect the loose puck after Niskanen's clearing attempt 10-feet inside the Dallas blueline and along the left boards took a strange bounce off the glass and back into the Stars zone.
The three goals came on three consecutive shots, with Setoguchi's goals coming against Dallas' top checking line of Stu Barnes, Jeff Halpern and Joel Lundqvist.
"There were some mistakes made by the guys that we rely on to shut people down, and it ended up in the back of our net," coach Dave Tippett said. "Those guys didn't get the job done for us. We had a chance to get the goal to extend the lead when Lehtinen hit the post, but our shut-down people didn't get the job done after that. It's as easy as that."
Despite being dominated territorially during the first 10 minutes of the game, the Stars got on the board first and grabbed a 1-0 lead when Ribeiro scored his fourth of the year at 10:20. Nabokov was able to stop defenseman Philippe Boucher's slap shot from the right point, but left a bouncing rebound that Ribeiro was able to beat Sharks defenseman Craig Rivet to.
Ribeiro deftly chipped the puck past the San Jose goalie for his third goal in the last four games.
San Jose tied it on Pavelski's second of the season just under two minutes later. Pavelski let go a wrist shot from the right circle that Turco turned aside, but the Stars were unable to clear the loose puck, allowing Pavelski to corral it.
The diminutive center quickly went around the net and stuffed the puck in on the other side before Turco was able to get over.
The Sharks outshot Dallas by a 16-10 margin in the opening period, but the strong play of Turco kept the Stars afloat.
Dallas regained the lead five minutes into the second period when Niskanen was the beneficiary of a couple of fortunate deflections and bounces. Accepting a feed from Modano at the left point, Niskanen let go a slap shot that initially went off Bernier and then ricocheted off Sharks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff before going past Nabokov.
"I did some good things tonight, but I also had a turnover that I need to learn from," Niskanen said. "It felt great to score my first goal and it was very memorable. I'm glad to get the first one, but I would've liked a better result. I got a good shot off, it hit a skate or something, and I saw it flutter in. I was just so excited. I need to keep chipping in and learn from my mistake tonight."
The Stars kept the lead thanks in large part to their sixth-ranked penalty killing unit, which was able to fend off a four-minute San Jose power play midway through the middle frame. Turco was forced to make only three saves during the elongated man advantage, and was helped out by a blocked shot by Boucher.
Turco finished with 31 saves.
Still, the failure to hold a one-goal lead with less than 10 minutes to go was disheartening.
"We had the lead after two but gave up the lead and we can't let that happen," Ribeiro said. "We needed to work harder since it's happened before this season. It was a lesson we need to learn and improve on. It's a tough game to drop in our division."
The Stars continue their three-game homestand on Wednesday when they hoist the Chicago Blackhawks at American Airlines Center. Faceoff is at 7:30, and the game can be seen on FSN.
Chicago dealt Dallas a bitter 2-1 defeat in overtime in the first meeting between the two teams on Oct. 13 in the Windy City. The Blackhawks tied the game on Robert Lang's goal with just 1.5 seconds remaining in regulation, and won it 43 seconds into the extra session on Jason Williams' tally. The loss spoiled Dallas rookie goalie Tobias Stephan's impressive NHL debut.
The Blackhawks have lost four of six games since that dramatic win.
-- Theses two teams will meet again in San Jose in eight days.
-- Dallas has scored a first period goal in eight straight games, and is 4-2-2 in those games.
-- Dallas had won three of last four over San Jose, and five of seven before Monday's defeat.
-- Ribeiro extended his point streak to six games. He has three goals and six assists during the span.
-- The Stars were unable to score on their two power plays, while San Jose was 0-for-3 with the man advantage.
-- Modano has three points in his last two games.
-- Lehtinen picked up an assist on Ribeiro's goal, and now has six points in his four-game point streak.
1 - 0 DAL
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 DAL
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 SJS
4 - 2 SJS
Hi stick - double minor