SAN JOSE - The Stars may want to consider relocating any and all future shootouts to San Jose’s HP Pavilion.
It took 11 rounds, the deepest any shootout has gone in Dallas Stars history, but the Stars prevailed in the breakaway competition for just the second time this year. Both wins have come at the hands of the San Jose Sharks.
Marty Turco made seven saves in a row with the shootout on the line, before Matt Niskanen beat San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to put the Stars ahead. Turco made the final save on Marc-Edouard Vlasic to seal the win for the Stars.
“It is one of many exciting long games that we have played this year. It’s a tough place to play. You can see the aggravation but we overcame it tonight,” Turco said.
Turco and Nabokov matched each other save-for-save down the stretch in a game that brought back memories of the 2008 Western Conference semifinals when the two netminders put their respective teams on their backs.
Friday night, just like that classic playoff series, both teams jumped out of the gate with a passion. San Jose lost their three previous games, two in overtime, and the Stars surrendered late leads to lose each of their last two games.
San Jose went on its first power play at 5:50 of the first period when Steve Ott made a hit on Dan Boyle as he tried to clear the Sharks’ zone. Ott was given a minor for cross-checking and a minor for roughing after getting into fisticuffs with Jay Leach and Boyle simultaneously. Leach was also given two minutes for roughing.
The Sharks had a flurry of chances about 15 seconds into the ensuing power play, when Rob Blake’s slap shot from the point wound up in the slot in front of Turco. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau each had rebound opportunities, but Turco made two sprawling saves from his backside. San Jose registered five shots on the man-advantage, but none found the back of the net.
The Sharks were able to put pressure on Dallas early and on the power play in large part because of success in the faceoff circle. San Jose won 21 of 26 first period faceoffs, while Mike Modano and Mike Ribeiro combined to go 2-for-13 in the circle.
The Stars capitalized on a power play after San Jose’s Derek Joslin tried to clear the puck around the boards from behind the Sharks’ goal. His clearing attempt landed right on the stick of Trevor Daley, who fed Ribeiro just outside the crease. Ribeiro tapped in his ninth goal of the season at 13:08 to open the scoring.
Less than two minutes later, Dallas turned the puck over in its own zone. Boyle passed the puck out of a crowd to Thornton, who passed it to a wide-open Dany Heatley in the right circle. Heatley’s one-timer beat Turco for his 20th goal of the season.
Less than two minutes later, Heatley took the puck into the Dallas zone, and immediately dropped a pass to a trailing Blake, who rifled a slap shot from the edge of the zone past Turco to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead. It was just the second goal of the season for the newly-pinned Sharks captain, who turned 40 Thursday.
The Stars controlled the play for most of the middle frame, outshooting the Sharks 16-6. The roughing penalties that marked the first period gave way in the second, as both teams struggled to establish a consistent flow of play.
With less than a minute left in the second period, the stick blade of San Jose’s Jamie McGinn found Jamie Benn’s face, giving the Stars their fourth power play of the evening, one that would carry over to the third period.
Before the end of the second, Modano came streaking in from the left side and fired a clean slap shot, which Nabokov was able to get his left pad on, sending the puck to the corner. Moments later, Modano got another opportunity when the puck bounced to his stick behind the goal. Modano wrapped the puck around in front, but Nabokov sealed off the gap, keeping San Jose’s lead intact.
The Stars took 30 shots on goal in the first two periods, but still trailed 2-1 going into the third.
Just over a minute into the third period, Jere Lehtinen stole the puck from a San Jose defenseman right in front of Nabokov. The puck wound up on Tom Wandell’s stick, whose wrist shot from close range missed wide.
A few minutes later, Lehtinen positioned himself in the low slot and found himself on the end of a behind-the-back pass from Ribeiro. Nabokov handled Lehtinen’s one-timer with ease.
Brad Richards finally tied the game up 10:42 into the third period. Richards wrapped around the goal to Nabokov’s left, and waited before wristing home his 10th goal of the season. The Sharks wanted a penalty because Neal got tangled up with Boyle and Nabokov on the play. Nabokov fell to the ice, creating an open lane for Richards to shoot at.
After Richards’ goal, the Sharks finally mounted an attack, taking the next 14 shot attempts – eight of which were on goal.
Turco’s finest moment in regulation came 17:20 into the third period when he made two crucial saves to keep the Stars in the contest. He stopped Manny Malhotra’s shot from the slot off a turnover, and made a no-look, behind-the-back glove save on McGinn’s rebound attempt.
Dallas had a great opportunity at the other end when Stephane Robidas wired a slap shot from the point with traffic in front. Nabokov made the save and dove on top of the rebound, forcing the game into overtime.
Niskanen almost ended it with a slap shot from the point three minutes into the extra frame. His shot trickled through Nabokov’s legs, but Boyle cleared the puck just before it went across the goal line.
San Jose countered the Dallas attack with one final push. Joe Pavelski took a pass from Heatley in the Stars’ zone, and while driving the net, backhanded the puck off the post from the right circle.
Then, for the second time in as many games in San Jose, the Stars found themselves in a shootout.
The Stars went first, and Richards scored in the second round on a deke to his forehand that froze Nabokov. Richards’ shot beat the San Jose netminder stick side to put the Stars in the driver’s seat.
Devin Setoguchi scored on a five-hole attempt in the third round to keep the Sharks alive. Then, the goalies took over.
Nabokov and Turco combined to make 14 straight saves, sending the shootout into the 11th round. Niskanen, by no means a regular in the Stars’ shootout rotation, roofed a wrist shot high glove-side past Nabokov.
“That was my first shootout. I came with a lot of speed, found a spot where I wanted to shoot it and snapped it,” Niskanen said.
Nabokov stymied eight Dallas shooters in a row, but Turco kept the shootout alive with some brilliance of his own, including three vintage poke-checks to deny Thornton, Malhotra and McGinn.
It was just the second win for the Stars in eight shootout appearances this season, and just the fourth win in their league-leading 13 overtime games.
“That shootout was pretty special. It was the longest one I have ever been a part of. I thought we played a good, strong game,” head coach Marc Crawford said.
Friday’s 11 shootout rounds marks the deepest any Dallas Stars game has gone in the shootout. The previous record was set on March 24, 2006, when Brenden Morrow scored in the eighth round to beat the Chicago Blackhawks.
Marty Turco picked up his 250th career NHL win.
The Stars snapped Ryan Clowe’s 10-game point streak Friday. The Stars also ended Corey Perry’s 19-game point streak last week against Anaheim.
Friday’s game marked the six-month anniversary of the Stars hiring Marc Crawford as head coach.