An insurmountable series lead has suddenly become a bit more navigable for the down but not out San Jose Sharks.
Joe Pavelski scored just 65 seconds into overtime, and the Sharks erased a two-goal, third period deficit to stave off elimination for the second straight time by beating the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Friday night at HP Pavilion.
The Stars still lead the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals 3-2, but failed to put the Sharks away when they had a golden opportunity to do so. The series now shifts back to Dallas for Game 6 on Sunday at American Airlines Center (8 p.m. FSN).
Stealing the puck along the left boards at the hashmarks, Pavelski calmly drifted across the ice before unloading a high wrist shot from the right circle that eluded goalie Marty Turco for the winner.
"I'm not positive how it got in there," Turco said. "The D-man forced him that way and it's tough to whip it around and put it in. He's a very talented player and I give him credit."
The loss was a bitter pill to swallow for Dallas, especially when it led by a seemingly comfortable 2-0 margin heading into the final regulation period. But San Jose goals by Milan Michalek and Brian Campbell sent the game into overtime, and set the stage for Pavelski's heroics.
"We were up 2-0 and allowed two goals," captain Brenden Morrow said. "We need to clean that up and lock some things down. But I still like our position compared to their position."
Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov made 24 stops.
"We thought we played fairly well tonight," center Mike Modano said. "There was frustration with losing the 2-0 lead, but the most frustrating part was how we allowed those goals. We usually don't allow goals like that."
Jere Lehtinen and Morrow scored for the Stars, who lost for only the second time in the past 10 games in San Jose. Turco finished with 19 saves in the loss, the first time he's surrendered more than two goals in his last six playoff starts.
"We made a few mistakes in the third but we have to find a way to overcome that," coach Dave Tippett said. "We did some good things tonight. We have to get our head up and win the next game. That's our focus."
Down 2-0, the Sharks appeared dead in the water when Morrow looked like he had scored to make it 3-0 early in the third. But the goal was waved off after it was ruled that Morrow gloved it in, giving San Jose a glimmer of hope.
It was Morrow's second goal of the game that turned out not to be. With 4:29 left in the second period, Mike Ribeiro's cross-ice pass went off Morrow's back skate and into the net. But after a nearly five minute video review, it was ruled that Morrow had used a distinct kicking motion to put the puck past Nabokov.
The controversial call was questionable at best.
"I still didn't see a kicking motion on the first one, and the second call was the right call but he got cross checked in his back and would have put it down and then knocked it in," Tippett said.
Morrow, meanwhile, decided against dishing out any criticisms.
"Everyone has an off-night and makes mistakes," he said. "It's tough when you have two like the referees did."
The Sharks got their motor revved up when Michalek made it 2-1 six minutes into the third with his fourth postseason goal. Michalek was able to steer Joe Thornton's pass from just underneath the goal line past Turco.
Campbell then tied it nearly five minutes later with a blistering wrist shot from just inside the Stars blueline. Campbell was set up by a long pass from veteran Jeremy Roenick, who was inside his own blueline.
After a scoreless first period, the Stars drew first blood on the power play on Lehtinen's 27th career playoff goal six minutes into the second. Lehtinen converted a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play that also involved defenseman Sergei Zubov and Modano. Modano began the play from the point, feeding Zubov with a slick pass at the bottom of the left circle. Zubov then placed the puck on Lehtinen's stick in the slot, and Lehtinen slipped it past Nabokov on the re-direct.
Modano nearly doubled the advantage five minutes later, but his wicked wrist shot rang off the post.
There was no controversy when Morrow's wrist shot slipped past Nabokov with 56 seconds to give Dallas a 2-0 lead heading into the third. After Nabokov blocked Brad Richards' stuff attempt, the rebound bounced out to the left circle, where Morrow gobbled it up to pot his sixth goal of the playoffs.
With the win, the Sharks became the first team since the 2004 Colorado Avalanche to extend a series to six games after losing the first three. Over the past 20 years, that feat has been done four times.
"We did have some mental errors and we thought it was tough with those goals getting called back," Modano said. "We know the fourth win is always the toughest, but we had a good effort and now we're going to get ready for Sunday."
It's up to Modano and his mates to make sure this intense series doesn't head back to the west coast.
"They're going to say the pressure is on us, but I say I like where we are at because we need to win one game and they still need to win two," Morrow said. "I view the last two games as lost opportunities, but I thought we played real hard tonight and we're going to play real hard on Sunday."
--The Stars were once again without forward Stu Barnes, who stayed back in Dallas. Barnes is still recovering from a hit in Game 3 by Jonathan Cheechoo. The Stars also reverted back to a six defensemen lineup, with Mark Fistric sitting for the first time this series. Brandon Crombeen was inserted for Fistric.
--Zubov played his 107th playoff game for Dallas, tying Richard Matvichuk for third-most in franchise history.
--The game was the fifth in the past eight days for the two teams.
--Dallas is now 13-14 on the road against teams that face elimination.
--The Stars were 1-for-4 on the power play, while San Jose failed to connect on three man-advantage opportunities.
--Also scratched for Dallas were defensemen Philippe Boucher (lower body), Krystofer Barch, and Brad Winchester.
1 - 0 DAL
2 - 0 DAL
2 - 1 DAL
2 - 2 Tie
1st OT Period
3 - 2 SJS