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Wingels' OT winner lifts Sharks past Stars

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- With their top guns still mired in a slump, the San Jose Sharks were in desperate need of an offensive boost from the supporting cast against the surging Dallas Stars.

Tommy Wingels answered the call. So did Marty Havlat and defenseman Scott Hannan.

Wingels scored at 1:52 in overtime, lifting the Sharks to a 2-1 victory against the Stars at SAP Center on Wednesday night. Havlat scored a second-period goal and also set up the game-winner with a slick pass from behind the net to Wingels in front for a quick shot past Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen.

Hannan earned assists on both goals.

The Sharks went 0-for-3 on the power play and are in a 1-for-24 skid with the man advantage. San Jose had lost four of its past five games before facing Dallas and had scored all of four goals during that stretch -- none by Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Brent Burns and one by Joe Pavelski.

"It was time for some others to step up and score," said Sharks coach Todd McLellan, who coached his 434th game with San Jose, tying Darryl Sutter for the most in franchise history. "To see Marty and Tommy both do it in one game is a good thing for our team. As far as the power play goes, it needs some work obviously, but it's a bit reflective of some of our players right now. They're not as sharp as they need to be. We'll try and put it back together and get it to where it needs to be."

Sharks backup goaltender Alex Stalock stopped 19 shots, allowing only Valeri Nichushkin's third-period goal, to earn his eighth win of the season. Lehtonen also finished with 19 saves.

After starting their three-game road trip by beating the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday and the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday, Dallas earned a point in the finale. With 62 points, the Stars are tied with Phoenix; both teams are one point behind the Vancouver Canucks for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. The Stars are 5-1-2 in their past eight games.

"We were lucky to get a point out of it," forward Vernon Fiddler said. "It would have been nice to get two, but they made a play and we didn't. ... We need to find a way to get these extra points. They add up at the end of the year."

Wingels ended the game with his 11th goal of the season and first since Jan. 20 against the Calgary Flames.

"I'm a big part of the group that the scoring's kind of vanished from," Wingels said. "I got one tonight, but the numbers in the past games still aren't where they need to be. It's something we're working on, the group of guys that need to pick it up. We will. We're confident players and we'll get there."

The Sharks grabbed a 1-0 lead at 18:06 of the second period on Havlat's fourth goal of the season and first since Dec. 17 against the St. Louis Blues. Havlat set up in the slot, just inside the left circle, and redirected a pass from Hannan past Lehtonen, taking full advantage of Bracken Kearns' screen.

Havlat played in his fifth game after missing 17 with a lower-body injury. The goal was his first point since returning to the lineup.

"It feels nice to win the game," said Havlat, crediting Hannan for making great passes on both of San Jose's goals. "That's the most important thing. I don't really care who scored the goal."

Dallas pulled even at 6:27 of the third period when Nichushkin scored his 12th goal of the season, capping an extended siege by the Stars. Trevor Daley sent a pass to Nichushkin in the low slot, and he hammered a one-timer past Stalock.

"I figured he was going to pass it," Stalock said of Daley. "I was playing the guy there off the side, he made a good pass, and the guy got it off quick. They made a good play."

The Sharks outshot Dallas 17-14 through the first two periods, but they didn't get their next shot until just 5:41 remained in the third. Marleau redirected a Thornton blast on goal near the end of a Sharks power play, but Lehtonen made the save. The Sharks went on their third power play of the game with 3:47 left when Erik Cole went to the box for tripping Wingels, but Dallas killed that one without allowing a shot.

"It was a good game," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "We fell behind but we played a real good third period. We had to kill a couple of penalties and I thought we dominated on the PK. We have to be happy getting five of six [points]," he said of the road trip. "The PK was fabulous. They were relentless and really working."

The Sharks were coming off a lackluster 5-2 loss Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers, but they showed much more energy and effort against Dallas.

"It improved," McLellan said of his team's effort. "It's pretty evident when you look at the game tonight and compare it to the Philadelphia game. It doesn't mean we were cleaner or faster or more polished, just the commitment level went up. We still got to improve, but the games are getting tough. They're becoming more and more like playoff games right now. Tight checking, shot blocking, faceoffs -- that type of stuff goes up a lot more. Even the penalty kills are a lot better than they were earlier in the year. So good for us to play in those games and win, but still some areas that need to be polished up."

Stalock started for the fourth time in San Jose's past eight games in place of Antti Niemi, who was pulled Monday after giving up three quick goals early in the third period as the Flyers built a 4-2 lead. Stalock started against Dallas for the first time in his career on Dec. 21 and stopped 44 shots in a 3-2 shootout victory.

"Seeing them once already helped a little bit," Stalock said. "They're going to look at things in my game too maybe and change it up. Try to be stronger second time around."

Fourth-line wing Adam Burish, making his season debut, started for San Jose and was credited with three first-period hits. Burish missed the first 57 games after suffering a herniated disk in San Jose's preseason opener and undergoing surgery.

"It was fun to play with those guys," said Burish, who skated with Mike Brown and Andrew Desjardins. "I just had fun out there. It was fun to be back out there. I felt like I was laughing and smiling the whole time. It was fun. I played in Dallas for a couple of years so I know some of those guys. I had a blast out there."

Sharks rookie Matt Nieto, who scored both goals against Philadelphia, nearly scored from close range early in the first period, but Lehtonen made the save. Nieto suffered a lower-body injury late in the second period while blocking a shot and did not return to game. He left the dressing room after the game wearing a walking boot on his left foot.

"He blocked a shot and was sore, so he didn't come back," McLellan said. "Probably not a good sign for the next game, but we'll know more tomorrow."

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