SAN JOSE - Nine days ago the Stars lit up Evgeni Nabokov and the San Jose Sharks in a rout in Dallas. Nine days later, the Sharks and their Russian goalie were able to extract some revenge.
Nabokov, who was yanked after allowing four goals on 17 shots in an 8-2 Stars win over the Sharks on March 16, recorded his third shutout of the season -- and 50th of his career -- by making 27 saves in San Jose's 3-0 win over the Stars at HP Pavilion on Thursday night.
Nabokov was able to outduel Stars goalie Marty Turco, who kept his team in the game by surrendering just a pair of goals on 31 shots through the first two periods. Despite finishing with 38 saves overall, Turco's hard luck continued as the veteran netminder fell to 0-3-2 in his last five appearances.
The Stars were stung by two Sharks power-play goals in the second by defensemen Dan Boyle and Rob Blake before San Jose forward Logan Couture put the game out of reach with a goal 7:41 into the third period.
Overall, the Sharks were handed seven power-play opportunities to Dallas' two.
"They got a lot of power plays, and that was the difference in the game," Stars coach Marc Crawford said. "You give that many opportunities to a team, and they capitalized on a couple of them, and that allowed them to get the lead after a pretty even first period."
Nabokov, meanwhile, was stellar, especially in the third period when the Stars were buzzing around the net in an attempt to erase the two-goal deficit. Nabokov got some help early in the frame when Jere Lehtinen rang a rebound off the post while staring at a gaping net, then robbed captain Brenden Morrow with 14 minutes left, sliding to his left to smother Morrow's sweep attempt from in tight.
With the loss, the Stars fell to 4-7-2 since the Olympic break, and they've now alternated wins and losses over their last seven games.
The game got chippy near the end, when gritty winger Steve Ott and Sharks captain Patrick Marleau tangled during a San Jose power play. Ott confronted Marleau, but was handed 16 minutes worth of penalties, including four minutes for roughing as well as a 10-minute misconduct.
Marleau, meanwhile, earned just a minor for roughing, and the discrepancy kept the Stars basically shorthanded for the final 5 minutes of the contest.
Couture made it 3-0 with less than 13 minutes to go in regulation when the puck trickled in after he was able to poke it over Turco after Turco was able to deny Devin Setoguchi's driving attempt.
Before that, the Sharks scored on two consecutive power-play opportunities to stake themselves to a 2-0 advantage after 40 minutes. Ironically, the Stars had come in having killed 15 of the Sharks' last 17 man advantage opportunities in San Jose.
"The Sharks were quick to the puck, but on our side we just wound up in the penalty box too much," Crawford said. "It's fair to say (penalty killing) is a concern. We also couldn't win a draw tonight, which was significant."
After a scoreless first period, the Sharks finally cashed in on the power play to make it 1-0 on Dan Boyle's 14th goal of the season at 3:29 of the second period. From the top of the left circle, Boyle let go a one-timer off a feed from Manny Malhotra that went off Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas' stick in the slot before going past Turco.
The Sharks then stretched their lead to 2-0 with another power-play goal just under 3 minutes later. Turco was able to make the save on Marleau's shot from the left circle, but the rebound jumped out to Blake, who popped it in after creeping into the slot from the right point.
The Stars now continue their four-game road trip on Saturday night when they travel to Los Angeles to play the Kings (9:30 p.m., FSSW). It will be the final meeting between the two Pacific Division rivals, with Dallas going 0-2-3 over the first five battles this season.
-- These two teams will meet for the sixth and final time this season on Wednesday at American Airlines Center (7:30 p.m., my27).
-- Right wing Krystofer Barch and Sharks winger Brad Staubitz engaged in a first-period scrap.
-- Barch later got hurt and went to the locker room with just over a minute left in the second period after laying a hit on San Jose defenseman Jed Ortmeyer in the left corner of the Sharks end. Barch was unable to put any weight on his right leg as he gingerly left the ice.
-- The Stars are now 3-2 this season against the Sharks.
-- Dallas failed to garner a point at San Jose for the first time in four games.
-- The Stars fell to 9-3-1 at HP Pavilion since December 2006.
-- Center Brad Richards had his six-game points streak snapped, while left wing Loui Eriksson had his five-game points streak broken.
-- The win clinched a Western Conference playoff spot for the Sharks.