|DAL||0||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||2|
|SJS||0||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||3|
The Stars seem like they’re a mouse running on one of those wheels. It seems like they keep getting closer and closer, but once again, they fell agonizingly short of pulling themselves out of their recent slump.
At least this time, they earned a point for their efforts.
After losing another third period lead, the Dallas Stars surrendered a 5-on-3 power play goal in overtime to fall to the league’s hottest team, the San Jose Sharks, 3-2 Thursday night at the HP Pavilion.
It was the Stars’ fifth straight defeat, leaving them 1-7-1 in their last nine contests, but with the one point they gained in the standings, they pulled into a fifth-place tie with Calgary in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Dallas is now six points back of Anaheim in fourth and two up on Colorado in seventh with five games left in the regular season.
In the first game of a four-game road trip through the Pacific Division, the Stars played solidly through most of the contest, but couldn’t close out a 2-1 lead in the third period, allowing San Jose to tie it. Then they got into penalty trouble in overtime to seal their fate.
“We battled hard and did some positive things, but we had some mental mistakes and those mistakes keep end up biting us,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “We have to continue to push forward. We keep talking about finding ways to lose games and that is very frustrating to drop this one. We’ll take the point and keep pushing forward, though.”
Joe Thornton scored both the third period equalizer and the overtime winner to extend the Sharks’ scorching hot streak to 15-0-2 in their last 17. San Jose capitalized on two power plays against the Stars’ top-ranked penalty killing unit.
The Stars had won six in a row at the Shark Tank (outscoring them 21-9 in that span), including all three previous visits this season. Dallas got goals from captain Brenden Morrow, his 30th, and Jere Lehtinen, while Mike Modano and Mike Ribeiro each added two assists.
Marty Turco was outstanding in goal for Dallas most of the night, making 24 saves, but his high-sticking double-minor penalty, whacking Joe Pavelski in the face as he skated by the crease 1:15 into OT, proved costly.
“He made some big saves for us, but it’s about winning the game and his penalty really cost us in the end,” Tippett said. “He made some great saves, though.”
“The mental mistakes are a lot easier to change than the other stuff,” Turco said. “For me in overtime, it was nothing short of dumb. I have no excuse. You take into account everything that has happened in the past few weeks and tonight was ten-fold in the right direction.”
About 20 seconds after putting his team down a man, Turco made a nice save on Patrick Marleau’s point-blank backhander.
Then, just 10 seconds later, Dallas had a glorious opportunity to escape with a victory when Modano stole the puck from Brian Campbell at the Stars’ blue line and sped in on a shorthanded breakaway. San Jose netminder Evgeni Nabokov, who made 23 saves in an impressive effort, slid out and got just enough of Modano’s deke attempt to send the puck skittering just wide of the post.
Modano then retrieved it behind the net, and with Nabokov still down in the crease, attempted to stuff it inside the same post on his backhand, but Nabokov’s outstretched stick stopped the puck on the goal line. Modano whacked at it again and Nabokov again held it partially over, but still on the goal line, with his outstretched stick.
“I had him on the original one, but it just rolled off my stick,” Modano said of the breakaway chance. “The second one just missed. We’ve made some mental mistakes lately and they have come at tough parts of the game.”
“It’s a game of inches,” Tippett said of Modano’s attempt. “He thinks it’s in and it’s not. That’s kind of where we are right now, so we have to continue to push forward.”
When Trevor Daley was whistled for hooking at 2:46 of OT, the Sharks went on a two-man advantage for a full two minutes. They only needed 12 seconds. Thornton, controlling along the goal line about 15 feet to the right of the goal, fed a pass into the crease intended for Marleau, but the puck ricocheted off the skate of Stars defenseman Philippe Boucher and past Turco for the game-winner.
“These rules changes three years ago - how we can keep sticking our stick in a guy’s stomach just baffles me,” Tippett said, referring to Daley’s penalty. “And the Marty one, I don’t know what he’s thinking there, whether he’s protecting himself, I’m not sure what he’s thinking with that one. Those are just mental mistakes that have to come out of our game.”
Holding a 2-1 advantage after two, the Stars let a one-goal lead in the third period evaporate for the second game in a row and the third time during this five-game losing streak.
Thornton collected his 25th goal of the season and fifth in his last three games to even the score 2-2 at 6:08 of the third. On a 2-on-2 rush into the Dallas zone, Mike Grier drew both defenders, Mark Fistric and Mattias Norstrom, to him and fed a nice backhand pass to a charging Thornton in the slot. Thornton’s booming one-timer beat a sliding Turco.
Two and a half minutes later, Matt Niskanen blasted a slap shot from the high slot that Nabokov turned aside. Nabokov then made an even bigger stop on Stu Barnes’ rebound attempt from the right circle.
Turco then completed robbed Milan Michalek for the fifth and sixth times of the night within a two-minute span to keep the game tied. First, with 8:13 remaining in regulation, Michalek curled out from the end boards into the slot and then received a pass from behind the net by Thornton, but Turco thwarted Michalek’s point-blank one-timer.
Two minutes later, Michalek swept in alone, made a nice move to his forehand, but a diving Turco used his outstretched goal stick to barely stop the puck just in front of the goal line. Turco then inadvertently swept the rebound into the right circle and was forced to made a save on Thornton’s snap shot while lying on his stomach.
The Stars had a power play late in the third period, but Nabokov made several big saves, including two on the snake-bitten Niklas Hagman, who has now gone nine games without a point.
“I thought our power play was good and almost won the game for us,” Modano said. “We have to keep trying to build momentum and confidence and use this as building blocks for what’s ahead.”
With a 1-0 lead heading into the second, the Stars almost extended it to two just 1:48 into the period, but Nabokov made a huge save on Brad Richards’ uncontested re-direction in front of Lehtinen’s pass from the left face-off circle.
About a minute and a half later, San Jose defenseman Kyle McLaren leveled Toby Petersen and then was challenged by rookie B.J. Crombeen, who was just recalled from AHL Iowa on Monday. While the two dropped the gloves and a handful of punches were thrown, it was much more of a wrestling match than a real fight.
But the Stars ended up shorthanded due to an instigator penalty on Crombeen, and the Sharks capitalized just 34 seconds into the ensuing power play, on Joe Pavelski’s 18th of the year. Pavelski set up in the left face-off circle and received a pretty cross-ice pass from Patrick Marleau and bombed a one-timer past a sliding, pad-stacking Turco on the short side to make it 1-1.
McLaren was later whistled for hooking and with Dallas on the power play, the Sharks nearly took the lead with a shorthander when Curtis Brown stole the puck from Modano at center ice and sped in on a breakaway with 8:11 left in the second. Brown made the move to the backhand and with Turco stacking the pads, Brown lifted it over him but off the goalpost, the Sharks’ second of the night.
Then, 11 seconds after that, San Jose was called for too many men on the ice, giving the Stars a 5-on-3 advantage for 51 seconds. Dallas needed only 29 seconds to cash in, as Ribeiro fed a nice cross-ice pass to Lehtinen in the right circle, and Lehtinen’s one-timer found its way through Nabokov at 12:29.
After the second penalty expired, Sharks rookie Devin Setoguchi, who has scored four of his 11 goals this season against Dallas, exited the box and received a long pass for another San Jose breakaway. This time, Setoguchi fired a wrist shot from the slot, but Turco made a big pad save to preserve the 2-1 lead.
San Jose had the game’s first scoring chance 1:30 in when Turco made a sprawling save on Thornton’s wrist shot from the left circle, and then made another on Michalek’s rebound attempt.
The Stars’ best opportunity early came while shorthanded, when Modano fed Lehtinen in the slot, but Nabokov denied his point-blank wrister 5:20 into the period.
The Sharks nearly opened the scoring with 7:57 remaining, as Michalek swept in off the left circle and wristed an uncontested in-close shot that went off Turco’s pad and clanged off the crossbar.
With the Stars on a power play, Morrow connected for his team-leading 30th goal of the season with 4:01 left in the opening period. After Nabokov robbed Modano by making a great glove save on his one-timer from the slot, the rebound squirted to Morrow off to the right side of the crease. Morrow quickly worked it to his forehand and fired a wrist shot past the diving Nabokov.
“I was just happy to get the first one eight or nine years ago, so to have that many 20-goal seasons and now a 30, it’s a pretty nice milestone,” said Morrow, who surpassed 20 in four previous years.
Dallas almost made it a two-goal lead just 45 seconds later, when Barnes ripped a wicked wrist shot from a sharp angle low in the right circle past Nabokov but high off the goalpost.
The Stars dodged a bullet with 25 seconds to go in the period with the Sharks on a power play, as Thornton feathered a nice pass from the right circle to a wide open Michalek in front, but Turco’s outstretched skate got just enough of Michalek’s re-direction to force it just wide.
The Stars continue their tour of Pacific Division foes with a matchup with the Kings Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles (3 pm start, FSN). Besides needing every point possible, Dallas will be looking to avenge their third period meltdown last Saturday against LA.
As the Stars move on, they will battle to put the frustration behind them and maintain a positive outlook.
“We have to focus on the positives and look towards the next one,” Boucher said. “When you are struggling, you have to just keep pushing. Obviously we need to be a little more disciplined, but we’ll put away the negatives and look at the positives for our next one.”
“We’re going to take those positives,” Turco added. “We’re committed as a group. We know this is it. They don’t call this the playoffs, but this is for us.”
- Morrow’s goal gives him a modest three-game goal streak and four goals in his last five outings.
- Lehtinen’s goal was his 14th of the year. He fired a game-high seven shots on goal.
- Modano’s two assists give him 10 points (five goals, five assists), including two game-winning goals, in the season series against San Jose this year.
- Ribeiro’s two assists leave him with a team-leading 80 points, a career-high, making him the first Star to reach that milestone since Modano compiled 85 in 2002-03.
- Boucher returned to the lineup after missing six games in a row and 44 of the previous 48 contests with injuries to both shoulders. He dished out three hits and blocked two shots. “It felt good being out there for the first time in a while, but it would have felt better if we would have won.”
- Crombeen, in his second stint with the club after suiting up for three games back in January, participated in his second NHL fight.
- The Stars’ penalty killing unit, which leads the entire NHL, surrendered an opposing power play goal for the fifth consecutive game. They have nullified just 16-of-23 opportunities in that span.
|Brenden Morrow (30) ASST: Mike Ribeiro (52), Mike Modano (33)|
1 - 0 DAL
|PPG - Joe Pavelski (18) ASST: Patrick Marleau (26), Craig Rivet (30)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Jere Lehtinen (14) ASST: Mike Ribeiro (53), Mike Modano (34)|
2 - 1 DAL
|Joe Thornton (25) ASST: Michael Grier (13), Patrick Rissmiller (8)|
2 - 2 Tie
|PPG - Joe Thornton (26) ASST: Brian Campbell (50), Joe Pavelski (17)|
3 - 2 SJS
|Mattias Norstrom Interference against Michael Grier|
|Steve Ott Tripping against Brian Campbell|
|Christian Ehrhoff Cross checking against Steve Ott|
|Stephane Robidas Hooking against Marcel Goc|
|Jeremy Roenick Slashing against Mike Modano|
|B.J. Crombeen Instigator - Misconduct against Kyle McLaren|
|B.J. Crombeen Instigator against Kyle McLaren|
|Kyle McLaren Fighting (maj) against B.J. Crombeen|
|B.J. Crombeen Fighting (maj) against Kyle McLaren|
|Kyle McLaren Hooking against Loui Eriksson|
|Devin Setoguchi Too many men/ice - bench|
|Stu Barnes Holding against Joe Thornton|
|Douglas Murray Hooking against Mike Ribeiro|
|Marty Turco Hi stick - double minor against Joe Pavelski|
|Trevor Daley Hooking against Joe Pavelski|
|SA: 27||TOI: 62:56|
|Saves: 24||EV: 17 - 18|
|PIM: 4||PP: 6 - 8|
|SV%: .889||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 25||TOI: 62:47|
|Saves: 23||EV: 14 - 15|
|PIM: 0||PP: 6 - 7|
|SV%: .920||SH: 3 - 3|