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Stars hand Sharks first loss in shootout

by Steve Hunt /
DALLAS -- For this first time this season, the San Jose Sharks didn’t leave with two points.

Rookie forward Alex Chiasson scored the lone goal in the shootout as the Dallas Stars handed the Sharks their first loss of the season, 4-3 at American Airlines Center on Thursday night.

“We’re disappointed we didn’t get the two points. We probably didn’t play well enough,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “We weren’t as crisp and as fast as we have been earlier. You’ve got to give them full marks. They played a fast, hard game.”

Chiasson beat Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi with a wrister over his left shoulder on Dallas’ third attempt. Stars goaltender Dan Ellis then ended the game by denying Brent Burns on the Sharks’ third shot.

"Before the game we knew he was going to be number two or three,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of picking Chiasson to be his third shooter in the tiebreaker. “He had a goal in the shootout during the preseason. [Chiasson] took me off the hook with that one.”

It was Chiasson’s first career shootout attempt.

“I think it’s fun. It brings a different energy out of you. I was pretty tired there after that one shift we had there in overtime. But when coach told me I was going third, you just take a couple of deep breaths,” Chiasson said. “These are the situations you want to be in as a player.”

Cody Eakin had a goal and an assist for Dallas and Ray Whitney had two assists for the Stars.

The Sharks were trying for their second 7-0-0 start in as many seasons. They got off to a fast start when Tyler Kennedy scored nine seconds after the opening faceoff. He went top-shelf on Ellis with a wrister from just inside the blue line. It was the second-quickest goal from the start of a game in Sharks history -- one second later than the one scored by former Shark Stephane Matteau in a 5-2 road loss to the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 1, 2000 -- and the fastest ever allowed by the Stars.

“It’s not a goal that you want to let in, one that I need to make a save on,” Ellis admitted. “I need to be a little sharper in those first few minutes to give ourselves a chance to get our feet under us.”

The Stars couldn't capitalize on a four-minute power play at 10:59 of the first period when James Sheppard high-sticked Dallas rookie Valeri Nichushkin and drew blood. But they tied the game at 16:44 when Tyler Seguin fired home a rebound for his third of the season.

However, the Sharks recaptured the lead 1:08 before the first intermission when Matt Nieto -- a college teammate of Chiasson at Boston University -- beat Ellis over the glove with a wrister from the high slot.

The Stars got even again when Trevor Daley converted another rebound at 1:53 of the second period. Daley collected the puck after it had deflected off San Jose’s Brad Stuart after Eakin’s initial shot was blocked.

San Jose took the lead for a third time at 12:30 when Patrick Marleau grabbed his own rebound and scored on a wraparound. The play was initially ruled no goal but the decision was overturned after a quick video review.

This time, the Stars needed just 28 seconds to pull even again. Chiasson raced up the right side and fired a shot that Niemi stopped, but Eakin was there to snap home the rebound and make it 3-3.

Blowing three leads didn’t sit well with Sharks captain Joe Thornton.

“It’s tough, especially when you score a goal and they come back and score on the next shift,” Thornton said. “Those are the ones you want to bear down and make sure they don’t score. Just try to continue the momentum and we didn’t do that twice. So, we’ll address it and be better in that aspect.”

Eakin had a chance to put the Stars ahead in the final half-minute of the second period when he went in on a shorthanded breakaway. But the Dallas center was unable to corral the puck long enough to get off a quality shot and his short wrister hit Niemi high.

Dallas went more than 14 minutes without a shot on goal in the scoreless final period. San Jose got a power play with 1:02 left in overtime when Dallas defenseman Sergei Gonchar was called for cross-checking but Dallas was able to kill the rest of the overtime to send the game to a shootout.

Niemi stopped 28 of 31 shots he faced for the Sharks while Ellis made 31 saves on 34 shots for Dallas.

"You really like to see the goaltender bounce back," Ruff said of Ellis’ showing in his first win of the season. "He had a really good save in the third period that kept it tied, and what he does in the shootout speaks for itself.”

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