Four days after riding the roller coaster of emotions in a discouraging overtime loss to Los Angeles, the Stars hopped on board once again.
Playing their first game in the Les Jackson/Brett Hull co-general manager era, the Stars erased a two-goal, third-period deficit only to fall in a shootout, 4-3, to the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night at American Airlines Center.
A day after Jackson and Hull took over the reigns from former GM Doug Armstrong, the Stars nearly bounced back dramatically from one of their worse defeats in recent memory when they squandered a four-goal lead in a loss to the Kings on Saturday.
Jere Lehtinen and Brenden Morrow both had a goal and an assist, and Niklas Hagman also scored for the Stars, who have lost in regulation, overtime, and now a shootout over their last three contests.
"You have to like the will we played with and the intensity in the third," coach Dave Tippett said. "We had some good chances to win this one. When changes happened like they did (over the past few days), you wonder how people are going to respond, but our goal was to push forward and worry about the things on the ice."
Patrick Marleau and Devin Setoguchi both scored in regulation and in the shootout, and Torrey Mitchell also scored for the Pacific Division-leading Sharks, who won their third straight and first in three games decided by a shootout. Goalie Evgeni Nabokov finished with 26 saves in his 26th straight start dating back to last year, extending his franchise record.
Setoguchi was able to beat Dallas goalie Marty Turco on the first shootout attempt, and after both Sergei Zubov and Jussi Jokinen were foiled by Nabokov, Marleau won it when he snapped an 0-for-7 shootout drought by wristing a shot past Turco.
Dallas dropped to 22-6 all-time in the shootout, and 1-1 this season.
"We haven't seen too many in the shootout this season, and we can't take for granted the one extra point," said Turco, who made 22 saves. "We made some mistakes that resulted in goals for them, but we looked past that and came back to tie it, so we will take some positives from it."
Dallas seemed still dazed from the knockout blow leveled by the Kings over the weekend, as it made plenty of unforced errors and mental breakdowns that allowed the Sharks to grab a two-goal lead after one period. But the Stars were able to get their legs around the middle of the second period, and began to dominate as the game wore on, especially in the final frame when they tied things up on goals by Morrow and Hagman.
"We had some good chances to take the game, but we'll build from the third period and take things from there," Hagman said. "It was fun playing in the third. You could see the crowd getting into it and there was a good atmosphere in the building."
Defenseman Philippe Boucher also liked his team's effort in the third, but wasn't happy with failing to secure the bonus point after sending the game into overtime.
"There has been a lot going on over the past few days, but that's no excuse for the start," he said. "We had some chances to win this game, but just didn't get the job done in the end."
Turco helped force the shootout with a sparkling save on San Jose forward Curtis Brown with three minutes left in overtime, sliding to his left to rob Brown of a certain goal. Turco was then helped when Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic blasted a slap shot that rang off the post.
Morrow cut the deficit to 3-2 at 5:33 of the third period when he cashed in on a Stars power play. Lehtinen's shot from the slot was originally blocked by Nabokov, but Morrow was able to whack the puck out of mid-air into the net for his eighth of the season.
Energized by Morrow's goal, Dallas pulled even on Hagman's eighth just 58 seconds later. Antti Miettinen's feed to the front of the Sharks net went off center Marcel Goc's leg and right to Hagman, who was standing two feet from the top of the left-side of the crease. Hagman didn't waste the fortunate bounce, and promptly one-timed the puck past a beleaguered Nabokov.
Turco kept the game tied with consecutive saves on Joe Thornton and Setoguchi with nine minutes left in regulation. Turco stood strong when Thornton tried to back-hand the puck in from in-tight. Setoguchi was then stoned when Turco turned aside his flick attempt in the low slot.
The Sharks grabbed a 1-0 lead when Mitchell put his third of the season home 9:33 into the opening stanza. Mitchell was the beneficiary of a misplay by Turco, whose pass from behind the net to Zubov in the left corner was intercepted by Sharks center Jeremy Roenick. Roenick sent a pass to the slot to Mitchell, who tapped the puck into the open net.
Lehtinen tied it with his fifth of the year with less than five minutes left in the first. With a delayed penalty about to be called on San Jose, Lehtinen picked up Mike Modano's dump-in deep in the right corner. Lehtinen's pass to Morrow went off the captain's leg in front of the net, but Lehtinen was able to swat the bouncing puck in on the back-hand while coming out of the corner.
San Jose took a two-goal lead with a pair of tallies in a 59-second span late in the period. Setoguchi gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead with his sixth of the year, and third against the Stars. The play began when Zubov muffed his clearing attempt at the Dallas blueline, with Thornton collecting the loose puck and finding Setoguchi down the middle of the ice. Setoguchi faked a shot and took a couple strides into the right circle before letting go a wrist shot that beat Turco between the legs.
Marleau made it 3-1 after one with his fourth of the year, again capitalizing on a Dallas mental mistake, this time by veteran Stu Barnes. Barnes' short pass deep in the Stars end was intercepted by Marleau at the goal line along the right boards, and San Jose's captain skated towards the net before depositing a wrist shot over Turco's left shoulder and into the net.
"These points are so valuable so it still hurts," Turco said.
The Stars continue their season-long five-game homestand on Friday when they host the Colorado Avalanche at 7:30 (FSN).
It will be the second meeting this season between the two teams. Colorado defeated Dallas 4-3 in Denver in the season opener for both clubs last month. The Avalanche come in having not played since Sunday's 4-2 win over Minnesota.
Paul Stastny, who recorded his first career hat trick against the Stars in the opener, leads the team with nine goals. Stastny had two goals and an assist in the win over the Wild.
--The Stars recognized Jeremy Roenick's 500th career goal (scored last week vs. Phoenix) with PA announcement for the fans with a graphic on the scoreboard at a TV timeout in the first period. Stars fans in the arena responded with applause and cheers, prompting a wave of thanks from Roenick on the Sharks bench.
"It was really special," Roenick said. "It was great that the Stars recognized me and I really appreciated the response from the fans. Mike Modano and I have been a part of USA Hockey for a long time and it really means a lot for us to achieve these milestones at the same time. I thought it was great."
-- Defenseman Mattias Norstrom missed his third straight game with a facial laceration.
-- Defenseman Trevor Daley played in his 200th career NHL game, but was whistled for three penalties.
-- Lehtinen is on a five-game point steak in which he's scored two goals and assisted on six others.
-- Dallas killed off all five of San Jose's power-play opportunities, and has not allowed a Sharks man-advantage goal in 16 of the 17 chances they've had in three meetings.
-- Dallas has now lost three straight, and four of five, to San Jose at home.
-- The Stars garnered their first point this season when trailing after two periods (0-5-1).
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