The way the Dallas Stars
play at the HP Pavilion, home ice is no advantage for the San Jose Sharks
Brenden Morrow’s goal 4:39 into overtime gave the Stars a 3-2 victory over the Sharks on Friday night in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series. Dallas improved to 7-0-1 in its last eight visits to San Jose; the Stars haven’t lost in regulation at the Shark Tank since Oct. 17, 2006.
''It's a really fun place to play. The atmosphere is great,'' said Morrow, who already has five goals — two more than his previous career playoff high — in Dallas' seven postseason games. He scored three in the Stars’ first-round victory over Anaheim.
The Stars had just 15 shots at Evgeni Nabokov through 60 minutes, but got the only three shots on goal in the extra period and made the last one count. Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas took a pass from Mike Ribeiro, carried down the right side in the San Jose zone and circled the net before feeding Mattias Norstrom at the left point. With the Sharks’ defense breaking down, Norstrom found Morrow all alone in the right circle for a one-timer that went between Nabokov and the near post.
''Our goal was to come in and steal a game,'' Morrow said. ''You never know what it will be or how many goals it will take. We didn't want to be denied. Marty (Turco) had such a great first period for us to keep us in the game.''
Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is at San Jose on Sunday night before the series shifts to Dallas for games Tuesday and Wednesday.
Until late in regulation, it looked like the Stars had gotten all the offense they needed in a span of just over three minutes in the second period, when Mike Modano and Morrow scored after Milan Michalek had given the Sharks the lead 4:50 into the period.
The Sharks spent the first 16-plus minutes of the third period doing little against a Dallas defense that kept them mostly to the outside against Turco while protecting a 2-1 lead. But Matt Carle fired a shot from the left point, and three San Jose forwards charged the net. Jonathan Cheechoo fought off a check from Robidas and forced the rebound past Turco and just inside the post with 3:02 remaining in regulation. It was Cheechoo’s 11th goal in 29 career games against Turco.
Dallas got a chance to take the lead when San Jose defenseman Bryan Campbell was called for interfering with Modano. But the Sharks limited Dallas to a single shot during the power play and escaped regulation with a 2-2 tie.
Turco, who finished with 25 saves, is now 13-3-1 at the Shark Tank.
''Some good things have happened here,'' said Modano, who became the NHL's leading American-born scorer during a game in San Jose earlier this season. ''I've had a lot of games over a lot of seasons against these guys. After so many years and games, I kind of feel comfortable out West.''
The Sharks pressured Turco from the drop of the puck, forcing him to make a pair of saves in the first 25 seconds. Michalek, the Sharks’ second-leading scorer in the regular season but scoreless in the first round against Calgary, beat Turco a minute into the game but rang a shot off the crossbar.
San Jose’s defense stifled the Stars’ attack, holding Dallas without a shot on goal until 16:24 into the first period when Nabokov stopped Steve Ott’s tip-in try. Ott had the Stars’ only other shot of the period, a 75-footer in the final five seconds, and the period ended scoreless despite the fact that San Jose outshot Dallas 10-2.
The Sharks kept putting on the pressure in the second period and it finally paid off when Dallas defensemen Matt Niskanen threw a soft pass up the middle of his own zone that was intercepted by Campbell. The All-Star defenseman fed Thornton, who quickly found Michalek in the lower right circle. Michalek shifted to his left, then let go a short wrist shot that Turco initially stopped, only to see the puck trickle through his pads and into the net at 4:50.
The lead lasted exactly 76 seconds. With San Jose’s Devin Setoguchi off for hooking, Modano teed up a slap shot from 60 feet straightaway that went past a couple of bodies and past a screened Nabokov to tie the game.
Not long afterward, Turco got his shoulder on a blast by Mike Grier, and on the return rush Ribeiro circled behind the net and came out to the right of Nabokov, drawing all attention to him. He slid a pass across the crease to Morrow, and the Stars’ captain had an easy dunk into a half-empty net at 9:09.
''(On) the goals they scored, we lost the battles,'' Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. ''We turned it over against a great line. You don't win the battles, (you) give somebody like Mike Ribeiro two or three shots at making plays. It should be one, and then we snuff it and get the puck out.''
San Jose pressed quickly, forcing Turco into a pair of good stops — the second on Pavelski just outside the crease after the Dallas goaltender got a pad on Doug Murray’s point shot but couldn’t control the rebound.
The Sharks generated little on a power play after Robidas was called for hooking at 19:04 of the second period, and though they controlled the action during another advantage early in the third period, they didn’t get a shot on goal.
Nabokov kept the Sharks within a goal just after the nine-minute mark of the third period when he denied Antti Miettinen from the right circle on a 2-on-1 break that began when Carle fell at the Dallas blue line.
A half-minute later, Turco gloved Christian Ehrhoff’s low blast from the blue line through traffic. It was one of the few San Jose shots to get through to Turco, who won the lion’s share of the one-on-one battles in their own zone and gave the Sharks’ attackers little time or space with which to work — until Cheechoo’s tying goal.
The Sharks lost Game 1 in their first-round series against Calgary, but won Game 2. They’ll need to do the same against Dallas, meaning they’ll need to improve on Sunday night.
''We need to do a better job on some guys on some of their lines,'' Sharks captain Patrick Marleau said. ''We need to get more shots and generate more traffic. We'll make some changes and go from there.''
Material from wire services was used in this report.