Just like their rally in Phoenix a few nights ago, the Sharks used their Thursday third period to acquire points in the Pacific Division race. In their 3-2 overtime win against Dallas, San Jose grabbed both points late and put themselves in a position to clinch the division with a regulation win Friday night in Anaheim.
“We got the job done,” said Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson.
For the Sharks, the overtime was a crazy time where they almost gave the game away to Dallas on a shorthanded breakaway, but were able to rebound and score on an unusual five-on-three power play.
On the Mike Modano breakaway chance, Jeremy Roenick came back hard to prevent Modano from making a move across the slot and Nabokov did a pad stack to prevent Modano from getting a good shot off. When the initial play was stopped, Modano still had a chance, and the puck sat on the goal line, until Thornton could pull it away.
“I should have warned Brian Campbell, be careful with Modano up there,” said Wilson. “He’s going to try to score, even though they only had three guys. But he just fell down and I knew Modano went to his favorite move there. It looks like he’s cutting across, but he goes short side. Nabby had the presence of mind to get his stick right there. If Modano has hung around instead of starting to celebrate, he would have scored.”
Nabokov’s play was amazing, especially given the circumstances.
“Obviously it was a desperate save,” said Nabokov. “I kind of got lucky. At that point, you’re just reacting.”
“J.R. was great backchecking,” said Thornton. “Nabby, I don’t know how he pulled out what he did.”
Thornton knows what he did in scoring the game-winner in overtime.
“I was just aiming for Patty’s stick and he had good position,” said Thornton. “I hoped it would end up in the net.”
Thornton now has five goals in his last two games and was on the receiving end of a beautiful pass from Mike Grier.
“Griersy made a great play,” said Thornton. “You just put your head down and hope it finds a hole.”
“It’s a very rare occasion, it’s the other way around most of the time,” joked Grier.
BIG GUNS COME THROUGH
“In the end, our top players got the job done,” said Wilson. “Joe and Patty were much better.”
GOING FOR THE CLINCH
The Sharks would like to lock up the division title as soon as possible, with the first opportunity being Friday night.
“You want to get it out of the way,” said Thornton. “It’s going to be a great game.”
“It’s always physical when we play those guys,” said Douglas Murray
Prior to Thursday, Dallas had topped San Jose six consecutive times at HP Pavilion.
LAST OPEN PRACTICE
The Sharks will have their last practice of the regular season that is open to the public this Saturday at Sharks Ice in San Jose. The practice is currently scheduled for 2 p.m. Practices will be closed for the duration of the playoffs.
With the win Thursday, the Sharks have recorded at least one point in 17 straight games. They are 15-0-2 in that span.
With his two tallies (team leading 26), Thornton has 18 points in his last 12 games (9+9=18) and seven in the last three (6+1=7).
Brian Campbell had an assist on the game-winning goal, giving him 13 points (2+11=13) in 14 games with the Sharks.
Thursday was Evgeni Nabokov’s 73rd appearance of the year, the most appearances in one season for him in his career. He is the league leader in wins with 44.
“I guess [the second period] was physical,” said Wilson. “We started banging and doing things we didn’t do in the first period. We weren’t very good in the first period and they had desperation and we didn’t. It was a hard game for us, but a good game – we got the job done when we needed it against a very desperate, but a very talented team. Let’s face it, until their goalie imploded (taking a four minute high sticking penalty) in the end, I didn’t know which way the game was going.”
STARS HEAD COACH DAVE TIPPETT
“There were some positive things. We’ve taking a step forward and battled hard, but mental mistakes are shooting us in the foot. That’s been our M.O. lately and it bit us again.”
“That’s where we're at right now. We have to continue to push forward. We have to take the point and continue to push forward.”
The Sharks will visit Anaheim on Friday in a 7 p.m. contest that will be available on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.