The San Jose Sharks
went from getting ready for summer vacation to getting ready for a return trip to Dallas.
Joe Pavelski’s goal 1:05 into overtime capped a stunning comeback by the Sharks and gave San Jose a 3-2 victory over the Stars on Friday night in Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinal series. The Sharks, facing elimination and looking lifeless for much of the game, got third-period goals by Milan Michalek and Brian Campbell to force overtime, then used Pavelski’s goal to send the series back to American Airlines Center for Game 6 on Sunday night.
Pavelski got the game-winner when he picked up a loose puck along the boards in the Dallas zone, looped to the right of the slot and rifled a high wrist shot that went past Marty Turco, who was being screened by Patrick Marleau.
"I tried to pump fake and tried to get him to drop a bit and kept pushing it and pushing it," Pavelski said. "It is really the only shot I have as a shooter coming around like that. If he moves at all, it’s gonna open up."
The Sharks had won Game 4 in Dallas to avoid elimination after dropping the first three games of the series. Just four teams in the last 20 years have won two games after dropping the first three; only two teams — the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders — have rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a series.
“We’re confident. We’ve found our game,” Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. “We’re going to keep pushing the pace. They’re a little older, and they’ve had some more travel. If we can push the pace and remain healthy, we’ll be OK.”
Despite losing the last two games, Stars coach Dave Tippett still likes his team’s odds of advancing.
"We did some good things tonight — made a couple errors that gave them a couple breaks, but we've got to get our heads up,” he said. “We've got a chance to close out a series going home."
The Stars appeared to have the game well in hand with a 2-0 lead after two periods. Jere Lehtinen and Brenden Morrow scored second-period goals to put the Stars within 20 minutes of advancing to the Western final for the first time since 2000, when they were defending Stanley Cup champions.
But Michalek converted a blind pass by Joe Thornton at 6:20 to give the Sharks some life, and Campbell tied it at 11:07 with his first goal of the series, beating Turco with a perfectly placed 20-foot wrist shot from inside the left circle after a tremendous pass by Jeremy Roenick enabled him to split the defense.
“Soupy took off,” Wilson said of Campbell, “and J.R., with his skill, was able to find him. Great pass, great shot.”
The Sharks played the third period with the kind of desperation they hadn’t shown in the first two.
“We didn’t turn the puck over in the third period,” said Pavelski, who scored his first playoff overtime winner. “We got pucks in deep and got in on the forecheck.”
Dallas lost for only the second time in 10 tries when trying to close out an opponent with a 3-1 lead.
The Stars won the first two games of the series at HP Pavilion and were 5-0-1 there this season before the loss. But the Sharks have enjoyed nearly equal success in Dallas, and Wilson feels that gives his team added confidence going into Game 6.
"I'd rather have a 3-2 lead, without a doubt,” he said, “But we are where we are, and we've had great success. They talk about how well they play in our building; well, we play great in theirs."
Added Thornton: “We're not ready to go home. We are a desperate hockey team. We go down 2-0 and we stuck with it and played hard, and good things happen when you go to the net and play hard. We got rewarded for that tonight.”
The close-checking style that both teams had used in the first four games continued into Game 5, with good scoring chances few and far between.
Turco made the best stop of the early going when he got a pad on Jonathan Cheechoo’s redirection of Thornton’s pass from the left boards just over four minutes into the game. The Sharks continued to control the play and got the first power play when Stephane Robidas was called for holding Torrey Mitchell at 5:50. The Sharks did nothing until the final seconds of the advantage, when Turco stopped Pavelski at the left post and Christian Ehrhoff banged the rebound off the crossbar.
Dallas didn’t get its first shot on goal until more than eight minutes into the game, when Mike Modano’s snap shot was stopped easily by Nabokov.
San Jose got its second power play when Dallas defenseman Nicklas Grossman was called for holding Cheechoo in the slot at 15:57. The Sharks controlled the puck for most of the two-minute advantage but couldn’t get a shot at Turco.
Dallas got its first chance with the extra man with 45.7 seconds left when Curtis Brown was tagged for hooking Lehtinen. But like the Sharks on their chances, the Stars generated nothing. The period ended scoreless, with the shots even at 7-7.
Ehrhoff gave the Stars another power play when he lofted the puck over the glass at 5:38, and this one was costly.
Sergei Zubov, stationed in the corner to the right of Nabokov, took Modano’s pass from the point and zipped a pass to Lehtinen in the slot. Lehtinen one-timed the puck past Nabokov to put Dallas ahead and quiet the sellout crowd.
The Zubov-Modano combination nearly made it a two-goal game just over nine minutes into the period. Zubov carried down the right side into the Sharks’ zone and fed a pass into the high slot for Modano, whose one-timer rattled off the post.
The Stars thought they had made it 2-0 at 15:31 thanks to a crease-crashing effort by Morrow. The Dallas captain drove hard to the net as Mike Ribeiro carried down the right side and wheeled the puck in front. Morrow was tied up with defenseman Matt Carle and had the puck go into the net off his right skate as he tried to stop. After a lengthy video review, the puck was ruled to have been kicked in and the goal was disallowed — triggering an eruption from the full house at the Shark Tank.
“I still haven’t seen a distinct kicking motion,” Tippett said. “But someone else did.”
But Morrow got one that did count with less than a minute left in the period. Nabokov was able to stop Brad Richards’ stuff attempt at the right post, but Morrow picked up the rebound in the lower left circle and whipped a bad-angled wrist shot through Nabokov, who never got set after the stop on Richards.
“It was amazing we could survive giving up a goal late like that, after a favorable review,” Wilson said. “Not many teams can survive after a kick in the groin like that.”
Marleau nearly gave the Sharks a jump-start in the first minute of the third period when he was sprung on a breakaway. But Turco, one of the NHL’s most aggressive goaltenders, came out and was able to poke-check the puck before San Jose’s captain could get off a shot.
Ehrhoff was penalized for tripping at 3:57 and Morrow again put the puck in the net, only to have the goal disallowed. This time, he gloved a pass and tried to get it to his stick, but the puck went into the net before he could do so. A shorter video review negated the goal.
"I was going to knock it down and hit it in but the cross check pushed me into the net," Morrow said. "We have to move on and earn our breaks."
San Jose had generated little offense in the period before Michalek woke up the crowd with his fourth of the series. Thornton came out from behind the net to Turco’s left and whipped a blind pass across the crease to Michalek, who rammed it into the wide-open side to give the Sharks and their fans some hope.
Jeremy Roenick made a sensational pass to spring Campbell for the tying goal, taking the puck in the middle of his own zone and catching Campbell at full speed a stride before the Dallas blue line. Campbell split the defense and wristed a 20-foot shot from inside the left circle that went off the right post and into the net with 8:53 left in regulation.
"We gave up the one breakaway, a mistake, made a mistake on coverage on another one, but those things happen," Tippett said of the two third-period goals.
Wilson said his team is finding its game. But will that be enough?
“We've learned in the last two games that we're getting a little bit closer, at times, to the way we can play,” he said, “that we have to be aggressive and we have to pursue the puck and we have to get in the face of their skill players.”
But Stars’ defenseman Mattias Norstrom, who scored the OT winner in Game 3, noted that his team is still in the driver’s seat.
"We're still the team that needs one to win it and they are the team that needs two," Norstrom said. "They came out hard and won it. The series has been exactly like this all along."
Material from wire services and team and league broadcast media was used in this report.