SAN JOSE – Despite getting a boost from the return of three regulars, the Stars were undone by San Jose’s middle-period outburst that paved the way to a win for the offensively challenged Sharks.
After battling back from an early two-goal deficit, the Stars surrendered three consecutive second-period goals during a fatal 6-minute stretch that helped the Sharks earn a 5-2 win on Thursday night at HP Pavilion.
Captain Brenden Morrow, Alex Goligoski, and Trevor Daley all came back after each missed some time due to injuries, with Morrow contributing a goal and assist. But San Jose’s quick-strike offense broke out of a recent slump to send the Stars to their second straight defeat.
“We need to tighten it up defensively, and if we do, offensively you’ll score the goals you need,” Mike Ribeiro said. “It was just details in the game that we need to tighten up and keep pushing the game along.”
Ribeiro also had a goal and assist for Dallas (15-11-1), which has now lost both meetings with the Sharks this season.
Andrew Raycroft, making his fourth consecutive start for the injured Kari Lehtonen, allowed five goals on 25 shots before being replaced by Richard Bachman to start the third period. Bachman, making his second career NHL appearance, turned aside all 11 shots he faced over the final 20 minutes of the first game of a season-high five-game road trip.
“We’re going to do our best to forget about this game,” Morrow said. “We talked about it before we left Dallas that we’re going to take each game individually and try not to look ahead.”
Bachman was steady in his 2011 debut, and is expected to get a start at some time during the trip.
“I tried to prepare as much as I could for going in there on short notice,” he said. “It’s never too easy to go in their cold, but I had some time in between periods to stretch out.”
The Sharks (15-9-1) came out flying after scoring just 10 times in their previous five games. They scored twice in the game’s first 82 seconds, then put the game away with their second-period spurt. In between, the Stars killed off a 5-on-3 power play that was nearly a full 2 minutes early in the second period, and tied the game up at 2-2 on a power-play goal by Morrow 6 1/2 minutes into the second.
But the buzz after the Morrow goal was short-lived, as Ryane Clowe, Brad Winchester, and Torrey Mitchell scored in the pivotal middle frame to put things away.
“To go down two or three going into the third, it’s going to be tough to come back,” Goligoski said. “We have to do a better job of getting leads.”
Logan Couture and Jamie McGinn also scored, Clowe and McGinn each added an assist, and Antti Niemi made 18 saves for the Sharks, who improved to just 2-4-0 in their last six games.
“I didn’t think we played too bad,” coach Glen Gulutzan said. “We got off to a rough start in the first, but we got one back late and tied it up. I didn’t mind our game up to (the third goal). After that I thought we lost our luster a little bit more. They were hungry team.”
Down by a goal after one period, Morrow got the equalizer when he drifted into the lower half of the right circle after standing in front of the net before ripping a one-timer off a cross-ice feed from Ribeiro for his fourth goal of the year.
But 5 minutes later San Jose began its game-changing charge, starting with Clowe’s sixth of the season with 8:07 remaining in the second to make it 3-2. After Raycroft blocked Martin Havlat’s shot from the slot, the rebound went behind the net, where Joe Thornton retrieved it and attempted a wraparound. Goligoski was there to block the try, but the puck bounced neatly to Clowe, who promptly whipped it in.
Winchester gave the Sharks a 4-2 lead with his third just under 2 minutes later. Standing in front, he was able to deflect Brent Burns’ shot from the left point, and Mitchell capped the second-period outburst with his third of the year with just over 2 minutes to go to give San Jose a 5-2 lead heading into the final frame.
“Those third, fourth, and fifth ones were tough to overcome,” Morrow said. “(After) their third goal the wind got taken out of our sails a little bit and the ice got tilted the other way. We just couldn’t muster up any scoring chances.”
The Sharks struck first when Couture scored his 11th on the first shot of the game just 67 seconds in. Off a 3-on-2 rush, Couture accepted Clowe’s pass and let go a snap shot from the high slot that beat Raycroft on the glove side.
McGinn upped San Jose’s lead to 2-0 only 15 seconds later with his fifth of the year. After Raycroft stopped Justin Braun’s shot from the right point, Sharks forward Michal Handzus fell over and on top of Raycroft. McGinn swooped in and deposited the rebound into an unguarded net from a sharp angle.
“It was tough going down two goals right away, but we found a way to battle back,” Daley said. “We felt our first period was pretty good considering what the score was.”
Ribeiro notched his third of the season to cut the deficit to 2-1 with 6:23 left in the first. After Morrow skated into the San Jose zone, he let go a shot from the top of the right circle that Niemi was able to get a piece of. The puck, though, ricocheted in off of Ribeiro’s arm after Ribeiro darted towards the net.
The Stars continue their season-long five-game road trip on Saturday with a game at the Los Angeles Kings (9:30 p.m., TXA-21). The Kings have lost three straight after dropping a 4-2 decision to Minnesota on Thursday.
-- Defenseman Mark Fistric served the first game of a three-game suspension handed down by the NHL for a hit on the Islanders’ Nino Niederreiter on Saturday. Defenseman Adam Pardy and forward Toby Petersen were the other scratches.
-- Goligoski missed 11 games with a broken thumb, Morrow (upper body) missed six games, and Daley (upper body) three contests.
-- Both Daley and Goligoski hopped right in after their respective layoffs. Daley had a team high 22:59 of ice time, with Goligoski right behind at 22:53.
-- Dallas dropped to 10-6-1 in the last 17 games in San Jose.
-- Raycroft fell to 1-7-0 lifetime against the Sharks.
-- Dallas was 1 of 3 on the power play, and has scored one power-play goal in two of the last three games. Still, the Stars are just 2 of 28 over the last 11 games with the man advantage.
-- Bachman’s first appearance came in relief of Raycroft against Phoenix on Dec. 11, 2010. He stopped all four shots he faced in nearly 10 minutes of action against the Coyotes.
-- These two teams will not meet again until early February.