|DAL||0||0||0||0||(null - null)||3|
|SJS||0||0||0||0||(null - null)||2|
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow continues to impress with his ability to galvanize his club and come through in the clutch.
Morrow scored two goals, including the game-winner in overtime, to lead the Stars to a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks at the HP Pavilion Friday night in Game 1 of their best-of-seven Western Conference Semi-final series.
In their first second-round contest since 2003, the Stars lost a 2-1 third period lead to find themselves in overtime for the first time in this post-season. With the triumph, they have now won two OT games in a row after dropping six straight, with Morrow connecting for the winner in each.
“Brenden Morrow is the leader of the group right now,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “Marty made some big saves and at the end of the night, we found a way to win.”
Indeed, Dallas might not have ever made it to OT if it hadn’t been for the stellar performance of goaltender Marty Turco, who made 25 saves to earn his 16th career post-season victory. Overall, Dallas was outshot 27-18, but Turco kept them in the game.
“This team has learned a lot over the years,” said Turco, who is now 3-7 lifetime in overtime. “We know we have to play to the end and it’s certainly a great sign. We are focused on winning and we know there are peaks and valleys. It was a great game and I knew we would stay with it. It’s huge to grab this one to start the series but it’s all about Game 2 now and trying to keep winning.”
The Stars, who went 3-0-1 during the regular season in San Jose, are now 7-0-1 in their last eight visits, outscoring the Sharks 26-14 in the process.
Dallas dominated the overtime period almost from the drop of the puck, registering the only three shots of the extra period before Morrow ended it 4:39 in.
Pressuring the Sharks in the San Jose zone, the final play began when Mike Ribeiro hit Stephane Robidas in the right face-off circle with a pretty cross-ice pass. Robidas moved in on Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, but was going so fast, he continued behind the net before swinging a pass back out front that found defenseman Mattias Norstrom at the left point. With most players overloading the left side of the ice, Norstrom then fed Morrow at the top of the right circle and Morrow blasted a one-timer that beat a sliding Nabokov just inside the near post to give the Stars the victory.
“We got out-shot but we were making our chances count,” Morrow said. “Unfortunately, they got one in the third but we found a way in overtime to get one.”
“We have been sticking with the program and finding ways to win instead of losing,” Robidas said. “Marty saved us in the first period and when you see a goalie playing like that, it makes the team play with confidence. The team that stays disciplined and stays with the program is the one that is usually going to win. We just need to stick with it, no matter how frustrating it can be out there. Brenden came up big and Norstrom made a great pass in overtime and that was the play we needed.”
The Stars also received a goal from veteran center Mike Modano, while Ribeiro added two assists to help Dallas rebound from a 1-0 deficit.
“It was tough, we created off the forecheck and created some pressure,” Modano said. “Brenden made a huge play in OT and this is a big win. We feel comfortable in this building and we look to keep it going.”
Heading into the final period with a 2-1 lead, the Stars killed off a couple of penalties in the first six minutes, playing solid defensively to maintain their advantage.
The Stars had a prime chance to go up by two 9:15 into the period, as Antti Miettinen stole the puck from San Jose defenseman Matt Carle at the Dallas blueline and raced into the Shark zone on a 2-on-1 with Niklas Hagman. Miettinen ripped a fierce wrist shot from the right face-off circle, and Nabokov, who was just named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s most valuable goaltender, made a nice pad save.
As the Stars fell back into a more defensive posture, the Sharks began to ratchet up the offensive pressure just past the midway point of the period. Their best chance in that time frame came when Joe Pavelski whipped the puck in front from the left face-off circle towards a charging Ryane Clowe, but Turco speared it away with his goalstick with 8:34 left.
Turco also made a nice save with 4:05 left in regulation on Milan Michalek’s point-blank one-timer from in front after Joe Thornton fed yet another sweet pass out from behind the net.
San Jose then struck for the equalizer with just 3:02 remaining. Carle launched a wrist shot from the top of the right circle that seemed to change direction once or twice on the way to the net, and Turco got his glove on it, but it fell loose in the crease, where Jonathan Cheechoo swept it in at the left post. It was Cheechoo’s fourth of the post-season.
“We were holding on throughout the third and Cheechoo pounced on a rebound,” Modano said.
The Stars responded by generating considerable offensive pressure of their own and were rewarded when Brian Campbell was whistled for interference on Modano with 2:21 to go. Despite several good chances on the resulting power play, most prominently Jere Lehtinen’s in-close wrist shot off the near-side goalpost with 1:25 left, the Stars were unable to capitalize, setting the stage for overtime.
“We had some spurts in the game, but the reality is we’re going to have to be much better,” Tippett said. “We capitalized on some chances, so give us credit for that. Turco made some big saves for us, but I don’t think we played close to what we played in the Anaheim series, so we’re going to have to raise our level if we’re going to compete with this team.”
After a scoreless first period in which the Stars were outshot 10-2, things did not improve much early in the second for Dallas, and San Jose finally broke through for the game’s first goal, when Michalek notched his first of the playoffs at 4:50.
Following a turnover by Dallas rookie defenseman Matt Niskanen in the defensive zone, Thornton fed Michalek in the right face-off circle, and Michalek fired a wrist shot through a screen that Turco appeared to have smothered, but the puck somehow squeezed through him and trickled over the line.
Dallas answered just 1:16 later, as Modano scored his third goal of the post-season on a power play to make it 1-1, bombing a one-timer from just inside the blue line in the middle of the ice that sailed through a maze of bodies in front.
The Stars continued to press after that and Morrow popped home his team-leading fourth playoff goal at 9:09 to give the Stars an unlikely 2-1 lead. Ribeiro set up the play by making an impressive power move, curling out from behind the net on his backhand and sweeping the puck in front, where Morrow, charging the net from the far side, banged it into the open side of the net. That quieted the Shark Tank crowd so much, you could actually hear Morrow’s triumphant yell throughout the building.
San Jose responded to that goal with a flurry of scoring chances, but the Stars weathered the storm. Less than a minute after Dallas went ahead, Turco made a pad save on Douglas Murray’s wrist shot from the left point, and a huge diving stop of the rebound in front from Pavelski.
Just 40 seconds after that, Pavelski fed Patrick Marleau in the slot, and the resulting one-timer zinged past Turco, but clanked off the far goalpost.
The Sharks, who outlasted Calgary in seven games to advance out of the first round, started the game with a flourish, generated several scoring opportunities on the opening shift, culminating in the best one of the entire first period just 1:03 in. On the rush into the Dallas zone, Thornton dished off a nice backhand pass from the right circle to Michalek charging into the slot, and his resulting one-timer beat Turco over the shoulder, but pinged off the goalpost.
Turco came up big on a brief San Jose power play with 11:22 left in the first period, denying Marleau’s one-timer from the slot.
Thornton set up Michalek in front with a nifty backhand pass as he was heading behind the net, and Turco made a huge sprawling save through traffic with 6:01 remaining in the period to keep the contest scoreless.
The Stars didn’t register their first shot on goal until there was just 3:35 to go in the period, seconds before their second power play expired, when Robidas ripped a slap shot from the left circle that Nabokov turned aside.
The Sharks came back with another big chance, but Turco slid across the crease to deny Jeremy Roenick’s backhand wrap-around attempt with 2:12 left and then managed to keep Devin Setoguchi’s rebound chance out of the net during a mad scramble in front.
Turco also made a nice save on Clowe’s slap shot from the left circle with 46 seconds left in the period and San Jose on another man-advantage.
Overall for the period, Dallas was outshot 10-2, but Turco was excellent and held the Stars in.
“This team has had tremendous starts against us and we kind of expected it, with them coming off a big win in Game 7,” Turco said of the Sharks.
“We knew they were going to have a lot of emotion - it’s a loud building, a good building, their fans are great,” Tippett said. “We came out here, weathered the storm a little bit. I would like to see us generate a little more. I didn’t think we skated as well as we needed to early.”
Now the Stars will get ready for Game 2 Sunday night (8 pm, my27) and try to steal a second one in San Jose, just like they did in the first round against Anaheim.
“When you’re the road team, you want to steal one on the road,” Morrow said. “We got greedy against Anaheim and we want to be greedy again here. We want to play a disciplined game and I thought we did tonight. This is probably how this whole series is going to be.”
- Morrow’s two-goal game was his second of the post-season, as he also put home two in the Stars’ 4-2 loss to Anaheim in Game 3. He now has five overall, establishing a new career-high in a single playoff year for him. He also now has two career OT winners, having also won the crucial Game 5 of the Stars’ first-round series against Vancouver last spring.
- Robidas’ assist on Morrow’s winner was his sixth assist of the playoffs. He once again led the Stars in ice time, logging 27:31. He also tied Miettinen for the most hits on the club, with five.
- Modano’s goal was his sixth in nine games this season against the Sharks and his 56th career playoff tally. He led all Dallas forwards - and was second overall - in ice time with 22:18.
- Ribeiro’s two assists give him eight in the playoffs, tying him with Sidney Crosby and Jaromir Jagr for the NHL lead.
- Niskanen earned his second career post-season assist on Morrow’s first goal. He also blocked three shots, tied with winger Loui Eriksson for the most on the team.
- The Stars were dominated on face-offs, going just 21-30 for the game. Modano won just four of 16 draws on the night while Ribeiro was 2-7.
- With his 16th post-season victory, Turco moves past Don Beaupre into sole possession of fourth place on the franchise’s all-time list. Jon Casey and Gilles Meloche are tied for second with 21.
- Defenseman Sergei Zubov, who hasn’t played since Jan. 17 due to a fractured foot and a sports hernia injury, missing the final 33 regular season games and the entire first-round series against Anaheim, once again was not in the lineup, despite practicing with the team for the past week. He is listed as day-to-day.
- The Dallas power play unit, which burned Anaheim for a league-high 10 goals on 38 opportunities in the first round, went 1-for-5. The Stars didn’t allow a power play goal by the Sharks in four man-advantages.
- The Sharks’ penalty kill unit, which passed the Stars’ on the final day of the regular season to finish first in the NHL, ranked dead last among the 16 playoff teams coming into the contest, having surrendered seven goals on 22 opportunities to Calgary in the first round.
- The Stars have now won two consecutive Game 1s, after dropping six straight going back to the first round of 2001.
- The Stars are 2-0 all-time in playoff series against the Sharks and are now 9-3 in individual games, having previously defeated them four-games-to-one in the Western Conference Semi-finals in 2000 and four-games-to-two in the 1998 first round series.
- One year after scoring just 12 goals in seven post-season games against Vancouver, the Stars now have 23 in their first seven playoff games this year.
- In 14 previous appearances in the second round of the playoffs, the club owns a 7-7 series record and were 37-41 in games played. When winning the first game of the second round, the Stars have gone on to earn a 7-1 series record, but are 0-5 in series when losing Game 1. This is the eighth time the Stars have moved onto the second round as the lower seed. They are 3-4 as that lower seed and 4-3 with home ice advantage.
|Milan Michalek (1) ASST: Joe Thornton (6), Brian Campbell (4)|
1 - 0 SJS
|PPG - Mike Modano (3) ASST: Mike Ribeiro (7)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Brenden Morrow (4) ASST: Mike Ribeiro (8), Matt Niskanen (2)|
2 - 1 DAL
|Jonathan Cheechoo (4) ASST: Torrey Mitchell (1), Matthew Carle (1)|
2 - 2 Tie
|1st OT Period|
|Brenden Morrow (5) ASST: Mattias Norstrom (2), Stephane Robidas (6)|
3 - 2 DAL
|Stu Barnes Hooking against Joe Thornton|
|Craig Rivet Interference on goalkeeper against Marty Turco|
|Craig Rivet Hooking against Mike Modano|
|Mattias Norstrom Hooking against Jeremy Roenick|
|Devin Setoguchi Hooking against Loui Eriksson|
|Michael Grier Elbowing against Brad Richards|
|Stephane Robidas Hooking against Joe Thornton|
|Mike Modano Tripping against Milan Michalek|
|Brian Campbell Interference against Mike Modano|
|1st OT Period|
|SA: 27||TOI: 64:38|
|Saves: 25||EV: 21 - 23|
|PIM: 0||PP: 4 - 4|
|SV%: .926||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 18||TOI: 64:39|
|Saves: 15||EV: 12 - 14|
|PIM: 0||PP: 3 - 4|
|SV%: .833||SH: 0 - 0|