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Niemi defeats former team when Stars top Sharks

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- Antti Niemi made 26 saves against his former team to help the Dallas Stars defeat the San Jose Sharks 5-3 at American Airlines Center on Saturday.

"The most important thing is getting the two points, but it tastes a little better than a normal win," Niemi said.

The 32-year-old won his first game against San Jose, where he played five seasons before he was traded in June.

"I thought [he played] well," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "Two of those goals, there was nothing he could do. I thought again, he gave us some key saves at key times."

Dallas forward Antoine Roussel broke a 3-3 tie with 6:27 remaining in the third period. His second goal of the season deflected off the pads of Sharks goaltender Alex Stalock and then off Roussel's right skate. San Jose coach Peter DeBoer challenged that Dallas was offside on the play, but after review the goal was upheld.

"We had the 4-on-3, and that was the place to go, was in the middle," Roussel said. "I saw the drive (by Klingberg), and I tipped the puck first, it hit my skate second and slowly getting in the net."

Patrick Sharp, Jason Demers, Vernon Fiddler and Tyler Seguin scored for Dallas (9-2-0), which finished a four-game homestand 3-1-0. Fiddler, John Klingberg and Roussel each had two assists.

Klingberg has a seven-game point streak, the longest by a Dallas defenseman since Sergei Zubov had a nine-game streak during the 2006-07 season.

Joe Pavelski, Matt Nieto and Joel Ward scored for the Sharks (5-5-0).

"Yeah, we went into the third and made one mistake and it ended up in," DeBoer said. "At the end of the day though, we have to be better 5-on-5. They had three 5-on-5 goals tonight, we didn't have any. Our power play started to heat up, which is a good sign. We got a shorthanded goal but we've got to generate some 5-on-5 goals. They did a better job of that than us tonight."

Dallas took a 1-0 lead when Sharp scored his fourth goal in three games 2:33 into the first period. After Stalock denied a backhand by Demers, Sharp roofed the rebound.

Dallas committed four penalties in the second period, and San Jose scored on two of those power plays plus a shorthanded goal on the only Stars power play of the period.

The Stars made it 2-0 7:09 into the second when Demers redirected a Roussel wrist shot from the left circle for a shorthanded goal.

"I saw their [defense] was kind of moving up, so I kind of cheated a little bit," Demers said. "And I knew when [Fiddler] got that pass through, we had a quick 2-on-1 if I skated to the net. Roussel made a great pass, and I got my stick down. I didn't have to do much. It just went off my stick and went in. You don't always take those risks, but I felt it was the right time of the game to do it."

The Sharks scored 1:14 later when Pavelski redirected a Brent Burns wrist shot in the slot for a power-play goal.

San Jose tied it 2-2 with its shorthanded goal at 9:56 of the second when Nieto scored off the rush with a wrist shot from the slot that went under Niemi's blocker. The sequence began when Tommy Wingels collected a Jason Spezza turnover in the neutral zone.

Dallas took a 3-2 lead with 5:00 remaining in the second with Fiddler beating Stalock top shelf to his short side off a wraparound.

San Jose tied it 3-3 when Ward scored a power-play goal off a backhand with 2:03 left in the period.

"Yeah, we were right there (in the third period)," Pavelski said. "We had our chances, power plays right at the end, it definitely was better, gave us that chance. Special teams too, it was there for us, but it's been there for us last few games. We've got to get a little bit more out of each and every guy and we've got to find ways to win these games."

Seguin scored an empty-net power-play goal with 1:23 remaining in the third.

Stalock made 20 saves in his second start of the season in place of Martin Jones. San Jose plays at the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.

"Yeah, he was good," DeBoer said of Stalock. "He came in, gave us some energy and made some saves when he had to. He was as good as their guy was, so that gave us a chance."

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