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Sharks blow past Stars 5-2

by Eric Gilmore /
SAN JOSE -- Change turned out to be a good thing for the San Jose Sharks.

Coach Todd McLellan juggled his lines Thursday night -- and the Sharks responded with a 5-2 victory over Dallas, snapping a two-game slide and winning for just the second time in their past six games.

Logan Couture, Jamie McGinn, Ryane Clowe, Brad Winchester and Torrey Mitchell each scored a goal for the Sharks (15-9-1), and Joe Thornton notched a pair of assists.  All four lines produced at least one goal. Goaltender Antti Niemi stopped 18 of 20 shots, improving to 11-5-1.

"Sometimes when you move your lines around, everybody gets a bit of a wakeup call," McLellan said. "They wonder, 'Why is he doing it to me? Why am I in this situation? How come I'm playing with that guy?' And it gets some people mad. Those people that were mad had pretty good nights, and we were rewarded with some balanced scoring and some good net play from different lines. That's a good thing. We've got to continue that on now."

Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow scored for Dallas (15-11-1), which opened a five-game road trip with its second straight loss.  Goaltender Andrew Raycroft , who started his fifth straight game for the Stars in place of injured starter Kari Lehtonen, gave up five goals on 24 shots and was pulled for Richard Bachman after the second intermission.

"They were a hungry team tonight, and we have to be better than that if we want to win on the road," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said.

The Sharks came into Thursday's game after losing two straight and four of their past five. Their only win in that stretch came in a shootout, 4-3 over Montreal, and they scored just six goals in the four losses. In one night against Dallas, the Sharks scored five times – one shy of their season high of six against Phoenix in the season opener.

McLellan shook up his lines just three games after juggling them against Montreal -- and once again Patrick Marleau was on the move. After bouncing from second-line center to top-line wing, he moved to the third line, playing alongside center Michal Handzus.

The tenacious Winchester, a former Star who was invited to training camp for a tryout and made the team, moved from the fourth line to the first.  Third-line winger Torrey Mitchell dropped to the fourth line with center Andrew Desjardins and the physical Frazer McLaren, who replaced Andrew Murray in the lineup.

"Obviously Todd doesn't want anyone getting comfortable," Mitchell said. "Switching lines up, different faces, putting different guys, it's a good thing."

Shortly after the Sharks came up empty on a 5-on-3 power play, Dallas pulled even at 2-2 on Morrow's power-play goal at 6:30 of the second. A few minutes later, the Stars went on another power play with a chance to take the lead, but the Sharks, whose penalty kill ranks last in the League, killed this one. Then they roared back to score three unanswered goals in the period and take a commanding 5-2 lead.

"The 5-on-3 that we had could have killed us," McLellan said. "There was a lot of momentum lost. They come back and score. I thought on the penalty kill we did a good job. I was happy that we didn't sag. We showed some resiliency."

Clowe gave the Sharks a 3-2 lead at 11:53 with his sixth goal of the season. Thornton tracked down the puck behind the net and sent a pass just right of the crease to a wide open Clowe, who beat Raycroft.

Winchester scored at 13:48 to make it 4-2. Thornton won a faceoff in the left circle and sent the puck to Dan Boyle at the point. Boyle whipped a pass above the left circle to Brent Burns, who fired a rocket toward the net, with Winchester planted firmly in front. First Thornton got his stick on the puck, then Winchester redirected it past Raycroft for his third goal of the season – two of those against Dallas.

"It was a great faceoff," Winchester said. "It was a quick shot by Burnsie. Anytime off a faceoff you can get the puck through like that it's a good shot. Just tried to get to the net and was able to get a good stick on it."

Winchester said it wasn't "too much of an adjustment" skating with Thornton and Joe Pavelski on the top line.

"Certainly they're very good with the puck, especially Jumbo behind the net. He's really good with it, so you know he's going to make a play, either up to the point or to the net," Winchester said. "I just tried to be around the net as much as possible and create some room."

After Winchester scored, it was Mitchell's turn. Racing toward the net, he got to the puck and ripped a shot past Raycroft, making it 5-2 at 17:57.

"(Mitchell) had a hell of a night," McLellan said. "He started on the fourth line and got more and more ice time as it went along. It was nice to see him rewarded for a goal. He went to the net, found some garbage and put it in."

The Sharks grabbed a 2-0 lead just 1:22 into the game but settled for a 2-1 lead at the first intermission.

Couture put the Sharks ahead 1-0 just 1:07 after the opening faceoff, blasting a shot from the slot past Raycroft. Clowe, racing along the left boards, gave Couture a perfect pass, and he beat Raycroft to the glove side for his 11th goal of the season and fourth in four games.

McGinn scored 15 seconds later to make it 2-0. Defenseman Justin Braun fired a shot from near the blue line that Raycroft blocked. But after a mad scrum -- Raycroft and Handzus wound up sprawled on the ice – McGinn dug out the puck of the crease and ripped a sharp-angled shot into the net.

San Jose outshot the Stars 6-0 through the game's first 6:27 -- but Dallas got on the board when Ribeiro scored at 13:37. Steve Ott made a nice cross-ice pass to Morrow, who fired a shot from the right circle that deflected off Niemi. Ribeiro, crashing the net to Niemi's right, was in the right place at the right time -- the puck bounced off his left hip and into the net.

"I didn't think we played too bad," Gulutzan said. "We got off to a rough start obviously in the first. We made a little turnover at the blue that cost us the first one, then kind of a drop puck there in the crease and the big scramble caused the second one. But I thought we had a lot of chances after that."

The Stars were without defenseman Mark Fistric, who served the first game of a three-game suspension for a hit on Islanders forward Nino Niederreiter on Saturday, but defensemen Alex Goligoski (broken thumb) and Trevor Daley (back) returned from injuries to face the Sharks. So did Morrow (back), who scored his fourth goal of the season.

"It felt good to be a part of it again, though the loss still feels the same," Morrow said. "The third, fourth and fifth goals were tough to overcome. The ice tilted the other way a little bit and they got a couple of quick ones."

The Sharks' defense was missing a pair of injured players – top-line defender Douglas Murray and Jim Vandermeer, who had played five of the previous six games. Colin White and Justin Braun were in the lineup.
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