Thanks to captain Brenden Morrow
and goaltender Marty Turco
, the Dallas Stars
can finally breathe a sigh of relief – and look forward to getting some rest before the Western Conference final begins.
Morrow scored off a deflection 9:03 into the fourth overtime and Turco stopped 61 shots as the Stars outlasted the San Jose Sharks
2-1 at American Airlines Center in a game that began Sunday night and stretched into the early hours of Monday morning.
Dallas won the West semifinal in six games. The Stars led the series 3-0 before San Jose rallied to win two straight, including an overtime contest two nights earlier.
“You can’t describe it,” Morrow said in an on-ice interview moments after he netted his seventh of the playoffs and second overtime winner of the series. “The reward we get for these fans, it’s a heck of a series. They put up a heck of a fight and it’s nice to get it over with.”
Morrow finally put an end to the eighth-longest game in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after Sharks defenseman Brian Campbell
– who led all skaters by playing over 56 minutes – was penalized for tripping at 8:14 of the fourth overtime.
The Stars worked the puck along the blue line in the attacking zone before Mike Ribeiro
sent a pass down low to Stephane Robidas
in the right circle. Robidas sent the puck toward the front of the net and Morrow redirected it past Evgeni Nabokov
, sending the crowd into a frenzy and bringing his Dallas teammates off the bench in celebration.
"Robie made a good, heads-up play, faked the defender down and I was there for an easy one. I shouldn't miss that one," Morrow said. "At that point of the game, you don't really know what you've got left."
The Stars, who last advanced this far in 2000, will open up the third round on Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena against Detroit, the President’s Trophy winners for the regular season.
Sunday’s game lasted just over 129 minutes and was the longest of this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, surpassing by far the 86:40 played by Philadelphia and Washington in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. It was also the longest game in San Jose franchise history.
“By the time you get to period seven, there’s not a lot of chalk talk that you’re doing,” Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. “We’re just recognizing situations and making sure we’re doing the right things. You get your opportunity and hopefully you can capitalize. We got our opportunity.”
Turco and the Stars are used to these sorts of marathons, having played a five-overtime game against Anaheim during the 2003 postseason and four overtimes in the first round against Vancouver last spring.
“Games like this make you realize you’re doing all the right things off the ice in preparing,” Turco said. “I felt just as good when the goal went in as I did during warm-ups tonight. The fans sticking around certainly helps our energy level.
“Nabokov wasn’t making it easy on me. That guy, he’s a warrior. He had a great series. Their whole team should keep their heads up. This one’s not going to be forgotten for some time.”
Nabokov ended up making 53 saves for the Sharks, who had won their previous three games this postseason when facing elimination. They made the Stars sweat again on Sunday, but their luck finally ran out after Campbell was sent to the penalty box.
“Those guys are dangerous on the power play,” San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. “They’ve got a great power play – they showed that in the Anaheim series. I thought we did a pretty good job of limiting their opportunities. It’s just a shame that that’s how we had to lose the game, but there’s nothing you can do about it.”
If the Sharks had prevailed, they would have sent the series back to HP Pavilion for a seventh game and given themselves a chance to become the third NHL team to come back from a 3-0 deficit – the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders had previously accomplished the feat.
“The first three games could have went either way – the two we lost, same deal,” Turco said.
“So tonight was just indicative of how the whole series was, it was just so close. This game’s crazy, but we’ve got to turn around and play in a few days.”
For the first time in the series, the team that scored first came out on top. Antti Miettinen put the Stars ahead in the second period, only to have Ryane Clowe tie it for the Sharks early in the third. After that the goaltenders took over, and for the fourth time in six games overtime was required.
"This whole series was a coin flip," Sharks center Jeremy Roenick said.
Neither team was able to come up with the game-winner during the first extra period, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. The Stars peppered Nabokov with 18 shots, while Turco had to turn aside 11 of the Sharks’ efforts. Each goalie made a few spectacular saves and survived a couple close calls.
Dallas scored in the first five minutes of overtime in both Game 1 and Game 3, and Brad Richards found himself with a golden opportunity just 1:31 in with a point-blank chance off a cross-ice pass. Nabokov robbed him with a glove save just as the puck appeared to be headed into the net, and a video review upheld the on-ice call that the goalie nabbed it before it crossed the goal line.
Turco denied Patrick Marleau twice with 8:06 left in the first overtime, first making a right leg save on the Sharks’ captain and following by getting his foot and stick on the rebound attempt.
Ribeiro had two chances in the waning moments to end the game and send Dallas to the third round. He found himself all alone in front after a San Jose turnover, but Nabokov made a pad save with 1:15 left. Ribeiro rang a rebound shot off the crossbar with 48 seconds remaining.
The Sharks came out flying in the second overtime and outshot the Stars by an 11-2 margin. Turco had to stop Joe Thornton less than 10 seconds in after Robidas wiped out in his own zone and turned the puck over, then added saves on Tomas Plihal and Roenick in the first minute.
Defenseman Trevor Daley had the Stars’ best opportunity with 6:22 left, but he put his shot right into the crest of Nabokov’s jersey and the goalie held on.
Early in the third overtime, the Stars killed a hooking penalty assessed to rookie defenseman Nicklas Grossman. The Sharks’ power play, perhaps showing signs of fatigue, couldn’t muster any good scoring chances during the first man advantage since the second period.
Clowe thought he might have put the puck past Turco during a goalmouth scramble midway through the period, but the officials never ruled a goal and video review could not determine that the puck had ever crossed the goal line. Turco followed with a brilliant save against Roenick moments later after he intercepted a bad pass by Ribeiro right in front of the Dallas net.
Daley had another good chance with five minutes left, but his shot on the rush was stopped by Nabokov, who directed the rebound away from a charging Mike Modano. San Jose outshot Dallas 8-6 in the third overtime but the game continued on, a long way from where it had started.
Each team put eight shots on goal during a scoreless first period and Turco kept the Sharks from striking first with an excellent glove save on Campbell with 1.1 seconds left.
Miettinen’s first goal of the playoffs gave the Stars a 1-0 lead at 4:49 of the second. Sergei Zubov took a shot that ricocheted off Nabokov, who then collided with Niklas Hagman. There was no whistle, and Nabokov lost his stick in a desperate dive to his right trying to stop Miettinen's put-back.
The Sharks, who overcame a two-goal deficit in the third period to tie Game 5 before winning in overtime, erased the Stars’ lead at 1:39 when Clowe scored for the first time in nine games. Clowe gloved down the puck in the right circle and turned for a shot that whistled in over the glove of a partially screened Turco for his fifth of the playoffs.
San Jose lost winger Milan Michalek near the end of regulation when he took a big hit along the boards from Morrow. Michalek remained down for several minutes and had to be helped off the ice.
It was a tough end to his season and ultimately a disappointing finish for the Sharks, who won the Pacific Division with 108 points and earned the second seed in the Western Conference. Although they could only come halfway back from the 3-0 deficit, Wilson couldn’t fault their effort.
“We ask everybody to play hard on our team and I thought they did,” Wilson said. “Everybody did a great job defensively. We don’t cover one line with one set line, we ask everybody to do it, especially when you’ve got road games, you can’t control your matchups. It showed tonight why we finished where we did and how good defensively we are. But Turco had our number on … a boatload of chances.
“When you’re on the road and you completely outshoot a team like we did in overtime, that’s saying something for your team, especially with one of your better offensive guys out of the lineup. But it’s over, so we have to move on.”
Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.