The Dallas Stars got their four-game road trip off to a positive start wit ha 4-2 win at San Jose on Saturday afternoon. The two teams entered the game tied atop the Pacific Division standings with 38 points each and the contest did not disappoint from expectations. It looked like two teams hungry for a win.
The Stars came from behind twice in the second period, each time erasing a one-goal deficit. San Jose took a 1-0 lead on a Devin Setoguchi power play goal eight minutes into the first stanza.
Dallas scored three times in the second period, including twice on the power play. Brenden Morrow tied the game 1-1 4:52 into the second but the Sharks came right back to take the lead again less than a minute later. Patrick Rissmiller came out from behind the net and beat Marty Turco with a backhand from below the left faceoff circle and give San Jose a 2-1 lead.
But things turned shortly thereafter, as Dallas received a 5-on-3 power play for 1:42 after a Matt Carle delay of game penalty, followed by an interference call on Christian Ehrhoff.
Dallas scored 24 seconds into it when Mike Ribeiro roofed the puck home after gaining control of it to the side of a scramble in front of the net. The goal tied the game at 2-2 and the Stars had gained some momentum midway through the contest.
“I think we carried the play until the two bad penalties in the second period,” said Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson. “We didn’t give ourselves a chance to kill off the five-on-three. That momentum changed the game. Until that point, we controlled the action.”
Antti Miettinen’s power play goal with 3:04 left in the second gave Dallas the lead at 3-2. The Stars clamped down in the third period and would not allow the Sharks the equalizer. Steve Ott added an empty net goal in the final minute.
“That was an intense, hard fought hockey game,” said Stars Head Coach Dave Tippett. “Our guys played a great team-game tonight and we had a lot of parts working for us tonight. Right from the goaltender on out, we had a great game. We want to be a consistent team that does all the little things right and tonight we did that.”
It was strength-on-strength when Dallas received a power play in the game, as San Jose entered the game with the top-ranked penalty killing unit in the league at 88.7 percent in stopping its opponent while the Stars’ power play ranked second at a 23.0 conversion percentage. Something had to give and it ended up being the Sharks, which in-turn earned the win for Dallas.
“We battled back, came back a few times and that was huge,” said Ribeiro. “The power play and the penalty kill played well and Turcs did a great job at the end saving us. It's good for the confidence for our team and a great start to the trip.”
For the second straight game the line of Ribeiro, Morrow and Miettinen each scored a goal. Turco stopped 16 of 18 shots, including a big save on Joe Thornton in the waning moments of the third period.
“I think Thornton tried to put it threw me and I think it hit me in the toe,” said Turco. “The power play has been clicking and was good for us again tonight. It's a good start to the trip and we had a good team-game. We did a great job of getting our matchups and playing in their zone. The guys let me see the puck a lot, they battled for a whole game and we prevailed in the end. This team cares about each other on and off the ice and tonight was another indication of that.”
In the end, it was one of the most entertaining game of the season. Played in one of the loudest arenas in the league, it felt like a playoff game.
“It was a playoff type atmosphere,” said Thornton. “It was a nice game to be a part of. There was good hitting and it was fast.”
“It certainly was more like a playoff game,” added Rivet. “Two teams were battling for first place. Tonight we came up short.”
Just what a fan wants out of a game between two teams deadlocked in first place.
"We competed hard, and our power-play got us a couple big goals," said Tippett. "We found a way to win."
Dallas has now won five-straight games in San Jose, dating back to December, 2006. The Sharks and Stars have met five times this season, with the visitor winning each game so far. Overall, the Stars have won three straight games, five of their last seven and 11 of their last 15.
The Stars will travel to Edmonton where it has a couple of days off before taking on the Oilers on Tuesday at 8 pm CT (FSN Southwest, News/Talk 820 WBAP).