SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ As the bloody scars on his brow attest, Wayne
Primeau is a tough checking forward who's expected to complete thankless tasks
for the Sharks.
He slipped out of that role Sunday night just long enough to score the
biggest goal of San Jose's magical season.
Primeau scored 2:57 into overtime and the Sharks reached 100 points for the
first time in franchise history, beating the Dallas Stars 2-1 in a game ended
by a defensive forward's first goal since Feb. 19.
Primeau beamed through a trickle of blood on his cheek when he took his
curtain call as the game's first star. The Sharks' worst-to-first turnaround
has even stretched the belief of coach Ron Wilson, so it really wasn't a
surprise when yet another unlikely hero emerged.
``The 100 points for this team, the way that people expected us to really
falter coming into this season, it feels great,'' Primeau said. ``We felt that
we had a good overall season. I think we've been peaking all year.''
Evgeni Nabokov made 20 saves, and Nils Ekman also scored for the Sharks, the
NHL's third team to reach 100 points this season. By beating their closest
division rivals, San Jose also moved five points ahead of Dallas in the Pacific
Division with three games to play.
After presiding over the final four months of the Sharks' collapse into 14th
place last season, Wilson hoped his team would challenge for one of the final
playoff spots this spring. Instead, the Sharks are six points ahead of Colorado
for second place in the Western Conference after their 13th home victory in 15
``There's no better feeling than to win a game like this in overtime,''
Wilson said. ``I thought the right guy scored, too. He kind of epitomizes our
team _ a bunch of guys looking for redemption. I think we've got a little more
than redemption, but we've still got a lot of work left.''
Pierre Turgeon scored as the Stars nearly hung on for a tie despite the
absence of goalie Marty Turco, who's halfway through a four-game suspension.
Ron Tugnutt, Turco's seldom-used backup, made 29 saves _ but he was fooled by
Primeau's low shot.
After noticing that the Stars had three forwards on the ice during the
four-on-four overtime, Primeau skated down the right side and deked Valeri Bure
out of position before beating Tugnutt. The Sharks stormed onto the ice to mob
``It's nice, especially doing it against Dallas,'' Sharks center Vincent
Damphousse said. ``We knew the importance of this game. We talked about it for
a couple of weeks, about how it's probably going to come down to this one.''
Nothing was decided, but the Sharks can clinch their second division title
in three seasons with one win in their final three games.
Dallas lost for just the second time in 11 games against San Jose but the
tired and undermanned Stars weren't terribly disappointed with the result.
Dallas, which dropped an overtime decision at Vancouver on Saturday, hadn't
lost in overtime all season before this weekend.
``We're chasing points right now, and we didn't get them tonight,'' Dallas
coach Dave Tippett said. ``The schedule certainly wasn't in our favor, but we
wanted to try and hang around this game, give ourselves a chance. We did that,
but we needed a big play from someone. We didn't get it.''
Turco, the NHL leader in victories and games played for goalies, was banned
at the most critical point of the season after high-sticking Edmonton's Ryan
Smyth. Tugnutt made just his eighth appearance of the season, and though he
appeared exhausted in the third period, he hung on to make several big saves.
``The good thing from this is we now have a two-point lead over Vancouver
(for fourth place in the conference,'' Tugnutt said. ``It's late in the year.
Everyone is tired. It's a tough travel schedule, but you have to play.''
Turgeon got the game's first goal, slipping behind Sharks defenseman Kyle
McLaren to deflect home Philippe Boucher's pass 90 seconds into the second
period. But a few minutes later, Ekman batted his own rebound over Tugnutt for
his 22nd goal.