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Stars win again in San Jose

by Brian Hunter

Brad Richards led the Dallas offensive attack on Sunday night by scoring a goal and adding three assists as the Stars took a 2-0 series lead with a convincing 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks.
WATCH Brad Richards' game-tying goal
Forget about home. For the Dallas Stars, there’s no place like HP Pavilion.
Brad Richards scored the game-tying goal 32 seconds into the third period and went on to add three assists as the Stars used a four-goal blitz to stun the San Jose Sharks in a 5-2 win Sunday night.
Defenseman Sergei Zubov, playing for the first time in over three months, made a brilliant feed to set up Mike Modano’s go-ahead goal and Niklas Hagman provided the insurance with a pair of tallies, his first two of the postseason. Dallas improved to 8-0-1 in its last nine games in San Jose.
More importantly, the Stars took a commanding 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinal, which switches venues to American Airlines Center for Game 3 Tuesday. They also swept two on the road to begin their first-round series against Anaheim, on the way to ousting the defending Stanley Cup champions in six.   
“It really has been amazing to watch,” Modano said. “Nothing’s really getting us distracted from our game plan. We’re just sticking to it, whatever the score may be on the board. We’re just getting timely goals. We’re just getting some lucky opportunities, we’re capitalizing on them and then we’re able to shut the door.”
Mike Ribeiro also scored and Marty Turco stopped 29 shots for Dallas, which hasn’t made it beyond the second round since 2000, when the Stars reached their second straight Stanley Cup Final. They defeated San Jose in the West semifinals that season.    

The Sharks held a pair of leads Sunday, on goals by Joe Pavelski and Milan Michalek. They couldn’t hold either one, and now find themselves facing an 0-2 deficit for the sixth time in their playoff history. San Jose has been eliminated in the previous five series.
“We started good, and we had a lead after the second (period),” Michalek said. “We let it slip away. We can’t let it happen again. We have to go there and win two. We've been good on the road all season.”
Richards, who posted five points in his first game for the Stars after coming over from Tampa Bay at the trade deadline, took advantage of a giveaway by Pavelski to score the tying goal and set the tone for the final 20 minutes.
“I’ve been fighting it a bit through the first five periods, and that's not a good feeling,” Richards said. “I kept grinding away, trying to make things happen, and then sometimes you catch a break.”
Shortly after that, Modano and the Sharks’ Christian Ehrhoff took penalties one minute apart. When Modano got out of the box, he would continue to epitomize the Stars’ success in San Jose this season. Jumping back into the play as Dallas started its man advantage, Modano got open and Zubov was able to spin around and send a cross-ice backhand pass that he converted at 3:39 to give the Stars their first lead.
“You have to realize it's coming to you,” said Modano, who’s been playing with Zubov since 1996. “He made another great play.”

It was Modano’s sixth goal in as many games at HP Pavilion this season, and the 57th goal of his playoff career, second only to Joey Mullen among U.S.-born players. Hagman extended the lead to 4-2 with 6:05 left.   
San Jose coach Ron Wilson pulled goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, who made 21 saves, for Brian Boucher with 2:45 remaining. Boucher spent less than a minute on the ice before the Sharks pulled him for an extra attacker, and Hagman put the puck into the empty net with 1:15 to play.
“We’ve played very well in Dallas all season long,” Wilson said. “We can just relax now and push the pace, and play as a desperate hockey team. You just have to keep playing on. You can’t worry about your missed opportunities.”
After gaining the early momentum in the series with an overtime victory on Friday, the Stars got another boost before the puck even dropped in Game 2 with the return of Zubov. The 15-year veteran hadn’t played since Jan. 17, first suffering a cracked bone in his foot and then undergoing sports hernia surgery in Germany early this month.
In his absence, rookies like Nicklas Grossman and Mark Fistric more than stepped up, and Dallas coach Dave Tippett elected to keep both in the lineup for Sunday’s game and dress seven defensemen.
The Stars’ inability to stay out of the penalty box cost them the first goal of the night. Turco made several big saves to help kill off early calls on Grossman and Turco, but after Zubov was whistled for hooking at 8:26 the Sharks went to work again.
Jonathan Cheechoo worked the puck out to Craig Rivet at the blue line and the defenseman sent a shot in the direction of Pavelski, who was able to deflect it upstairs past Turco at 10:13 for a 1-0 lead.
Ribeiro evened things up with 4:23 left in the first with a goal he scored from behind the goal line. The Stars cycled the puck around before Ribeiro was able to collect it along the end boards. Seeing Nabokov out of position, he whirled around and threw it in front where the puck deflected in off the goalie’s skate.
Stu Barnes prevented the Sharks from regaining the lead just over six minutes into the second. Jeremy Roenick fired a shot off a 2-on-1 break with Torrey Mitchell, and Turco got a piece only to have the puck trickle behind him. Mitchell was ready to whack it into a wide-open net, but the backchecking Barnes knocked it away from the goal line just in time.
Nobody could stop Michalek from making it 2-1 with 5:06 left, as he took an outlet pass from Brian Campbell, split the Dallas defense and skated in alone on Turco. Michalek used a fake to draw him out of position and slipped the puck into the net.

Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.

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