SAN JOSE - What a thrilling finish for the Dallas Stars!
After rallying from a two-goal third period deficit, the Stars received a goal by Stephane Robidas on the final shootout attempt to pull out an improbable 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks Thursday night at the HP Pavilion.
It was the defenseman Robidas’ first career shootout attempt and his scorching snap shot to the upper right corner of the net beat San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov over the glove for the Stars’ first shootout win of the season in five tries.
The Stars improved their overall record to 8-4-6 on the season, while the Sharks, who entered the day with the NHL’s best record (13-4-2), fell to 6-0-2 on the year at home and 8-0-2 in their last 10 overall.
It was a great start for Dallas in their first of three consecutive road games. The Stars had lost two straight on the road after opening the season 4-0-3 away from the friendly confines of the American Airlines Center.
It was an impressive comeback for Dallas, which got goals less than two minutes apart from James Neal and Mike Modano in the third period to push the game past regulation, where they were a puzzling 1-6 coming in.
Another key factor in the victory was the outstanding performance from goaltender Marty Turco, who made 30 saves and three more in the shootout.
“To grind out a win is obviously huge,” said Turco, who denied Joe Pavelski, Dan Boyle and Ryan Vesce in succession in the shootout. “But the best part in my eyes, as flat as we played, without our needed spunk and energy the first two periods, for us to say, ‘Screw it,’ and throw everything we had at them and see where things left. We got bounces, but they got some bounces too. And to get off the schneid in shootouts, too - all the way around, there’s a lot to be content about.”
With the Stars 0-4 in shootouts so far this year, coach Marc Crawford opted to change things up a bit by including Robidas in the rotation, who scored the only goal by either team in the shootout after Neal hit the post and rookie Jamie Benn’s deke attempt was poke-checked off his stick.
“I went once in the pre-season last year against Phoenix and I scored,” Robidas said regarding his past shootout experience. “I was just trying to keep it simple. I didn’t try to think too much. I wasn’t really comfortable making a move, I just went down, I had an idea of where I wanted to shoot it. I just shot it.”
Trailing 2-0 entering the final period, the Stars nearly went down by three just 22 seconds in after a Mike Ribeiro giveaway in the Dallas zone led to Patrick Marleau’s re-direct shot from the slot pinging off the left post.
A fantastic individual effort by defenseman Trevor Daley kept Dallas from trailing 3-0 at the 3:35 mark. Joe Thornton, stationed just to the left of Turco, deftly deflected Doug Murray’s shot from the point and the puck popped up and over Turco into the crease. As it was headed towards the goal line, Daley quickly slid behind Turco and managed to kick the puck away.
The Stars began to gain some momentum after that, particularly after San Jose was whistled for a too many men on the ice penalty.
Just four seconds after their power play expired, Dallas got on the scoreboard due to a fluky goal by Neal. In his first game back in the lineup after missing two due to a groin strain, Neal had the puck at the right point and his long wrist shot ricocheted off the skate of San Jose rookie defenseman Jason Demers in the slot and past Nabokov at 5:50.
Infused with energy from that goal, the Stars pressed and got the equalizer just 1:45 later, on Modano’s first goal of the season. Receiving Neal’s backhand pass from the right face-off circle, Modano drilled a slap shot from the high slot, beating Nabokov through the pads to make it 2-2.
Turco was sensational over the final six minutes or so of regulation, making a big save on Devin Setoguchi with 3:19 left and then coming up with huge stops on Ryane Clowe and Dany Heatley on a late penalty kill. His sliding pad save on Pavelski’s one-timer from the high slot was sparkling and sent the game into overtime.
In the extra period, Turco made another big pad stop on Boyle’s point-blank attempt in front 47 seconds in.
The Stars had a big opportunity to end the contest in OT on a power play for the final 48 seconds, but Nabokov made a nice save on Loui Eriksson’s in-close backhander with just eight seconds to go to set the stage for the shootout.
“(To come out with a win) is huge,” Robidas said. “Just the way we played, Crawford came in after the second, he said, ‘We’re not going to play safe right now, we’re going to go for it.’ We were skating, the D got involved, go-go-go and you see what happened.”
The game started off with a furious pace, as the contest’s first whistle didn’t come until 7:23 had elapsed.
During that time, the Stars had the best scoring chance six minutes in when Benn stripped Thornton of the puck in front, went in alone on Nabokov and flipped a bouncing puck off the far goalpost.
An egregious turnover by Heatley at the side of the Shark net led to a great chance by Brenden Morrow, whose stuff attempt at the left post was denied by Nabokov’s pad with 7:39 left in the first. Morrow and Benn had several whacks at the loose puck in the crease, but Nabokov managed to smother it.
The game’s first fight took place about a minute and a half later, after San Jose’s Brad Staubitz leveled Tom Wandell along the boards in the Dallas zone. Krys Barch rushed over to challenge Staubitz and the bout was on.
Dallas had several chances on a late-period power play, but Nabokov came up with impressive saves, particularly on Daley’s long-range wrist shot through a screen with about a minute remaining.
After a scoreless first period, the Sharks ratcheted up their offensive pressure in the second. They had several chances during a mid-period power play, with Turco making a sparkling pad save on Thornton’s one-timer from the slot.
San Jose kept pressing in the Dallas zone even after Steve Ott returned to the ice after a high-sticking penalty, and drew first blood on Heatley’s 12th goal of the season at 10:32. Pavelski retrieved the puck behind the Stars’ net and quickly fed a pass out front to Heatley, who slammed a one-timer from the top of the crease through Turco’s pads.
The Sharks increased their lead to 2-0 just 2:11 later when Clowe’s wrist shot from the left point glanced off the stick of Eriksson in front and sailed past a screened Turco over the shoulder.
“They got a lot of momentum from that one power play, they scored right after it,” said defenseman Matt Niskanen, who led the team in ice time with 23:58. “The guys got caught out there a little bit. The did a great job killing the penalty, and then they got rolling and found a couple goals in the middle of the ice.”
The Stars have Friday the 13th off before moving on to Phoenix to face the Coyotes on Saturday (7 pm start, FSSW+), featuring their first meeting with former coach Dave Tippett. Tippett has the Coyotes off to a solid start this year at 10-7-0 and currently among the Western Conference’s top eight.
- Even with the victory, Dallas is now just 2-for-16 in shootout attempts this season. In goal, Turco has now stopped 8-of-13 opponent attempts.
- Modano, skating in his fourth game after returning from a rib injury sustained in the season opener, notched his first points of the year. The goal was the 544th of his career, tying him with former Montreal legend Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard for 27th on the NHL’s all-time list.
- With his goal and assist, Neal, who led the team with five shots on goal, has now collected points in eight straight games, during which he’s scored seven goals and 12 points. Unfortunately, it doesn’t officially count as extending his scoring streak because he missed the previous two games due to a groin strain. The NHL considers scoring streaks as ending whenever a player doesn’t play in a game, so officially, Neal’s career-high seven-game streak had already ended. In the shootout, Neal is now 0-for-4 this season, although he’s hit the goalpost three times and on the other, had his stick snap in half when he went to shoot. He was 5-for-7 in the shootout last year.
- With an assist on Modano’s goal, Eriksson now has a four-game point streak going. Over that span, Eriksson has collected five points (three goals, two assists).
- Center Brad Richards saw his eight-game scoring streak snapped, during which he’d amassed three goals and 11 points.
- Dallas won for the first time this season when trailing entering the third period, and is now 1-3-4 when that happens.
- After going scoreless in three games since being activated off the IR, veteran winger Jere Lehtinen sat out due to a groin injury. He is listed as day-to-day.
- Also out of the lineup due to injury was winger Fabian Brunnstrom, who suffered a shoulder injury in practice this week. He is also day-to-day.
- The Sharks, after outscoring the Stars 2-0 in the second period, have now outscored their opponents by a total of 33-17 this season during second periods.
- With the win, the Stars are now 14-6-2 in their last 22 visits to HP Pavilion, outscoring the Sharks 75-61 over that span, dating back to 2002.
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