San Jose faced off with the Dallas Stars for their first division battle of the season. The contest went back and forth all night before San Jose prevailed in overtime 5-4.
Vesa Toskala continued to man the net in place of Evgeni Nabokov and his opposite number was Marty Turco. Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson also shook up the lineup by sitting winger Nils Ekman who led the team in plus minus last season.
Early on it looked as if Wilson's new lineup was a stroke of brilliance. After an early turnover that provided Dallas an amazing scoring opportunity early in the first, the ice began to tilt towards Turco.
San Jose easily killed off a Dallas power play, with Patrick Marleau taking the best scoring opportunity during the two minutes. As play returned to even strength, San Jose was aggressively forechecking and a turnover resulted in the Dallas zone.
Kyle McLaren picked up the loose puck, waited for a sliding defender to go by and then put the puck on net. Marcel Goc was in front and may have even deflected the puck, but no matter how it went in, it did, and San Jose had the 1-0 lead. After video review, it was determined that Goc tipped it, earning the rookie his first regular season NHL goal.
Moments later San Jose struck once more and again a defenseman played a big role in the tally. On the rush, Niko Dimitrakos carried the puck into the zone along the boards. Mark Smith was also flying into the zone and as he skated toward the net, two Stars defenders went with him. That left Scott Hannan alone in the high slot and he smoothly beat Turco for the two-goal lead. San Jose topped their goal totals for each of the past three contests in the first period.
After two Sharks power plays couldn't add to the lead, Dallas would strike. As the puck was about to leave their offensive zone, the Stars managed to just keep the puck inside the blueline. A pass quickly found Jere Lehtinen who beat Toskala's five-hole, bringing the Stars within one.
As momentum began to slightly shift to Dallas, San Jose was whistled for their second penalty of the period. Once again, the best scoring chance on the Stars power play would go to San Jose. As the puck moved back to the points, Goc appeared to be shot out of a cannon and grabbed the puck and headed in on a breakaway. The trailing Dallas defender attempted to interfere with the play, causing Goc to be slowed up. The speedy German was slowed, but was rewarded a penalty shot for the interuption.
Goc moved in with speed on Turco and appeared to have him beat, but Turco deftly tossed his stick out in front of him, forcing Goc to put the shot above the cross bar. San Jose would finish killing the penalty despite a shot from Mike Modano that rung of the opposite crossbar and San Jose would take the 2-1 lead into the break.
As the second period began the Stars were the club pressuring offensively. In the first, San Jose scored two goals in 36 seconds. In the second Dallas scored two in 32 seconds. The goals by Trevor Daley and Jussi Jokinen gave the Stars the lead and led Ron Wilson to pull Toskala.
In came Nolan Schaefer for his NHL debut and the Stars tested him right away. He made his first save, but then Modano scored Dallas' fourth goal.
Just when it seemed Dallas was pulling away, San Jose responded. As the Sharks pressed in front of Turco, a rebound was corralled by Jonathan Cheechoo and he turned and beat Turco upstairs to pull San Jose within one.
Team Teal would need to find at least one third period goal to ensure taking a point from the Stars.
Both clubs had early scoring chances in the third which were rebuffed by the netminders. On two power plays, San Jose sent tons of traffic to the crease, but each time there was a loose puck, Turco came up with it first.
San Jose appeared to be in trouble as regulation came to a close. In order to gain a late advantage, Wilson pulled Schaefer with 52 seconds remaining and then with 37 ticks left, Morrow highsticked Alyn McCauley and San Jose would skate six on four . . . and they would take advantage.
As has been the case on most Sharks goals, three players were around the net when a pass found Sturm to the right of the slot. He lifted the puck above the defender and sent the game to overtime.
San Jose would not settle for one point as they had in Detroit one week ago. In the latter half of overtime, a mad rush around Schaefer resulted in the puck being cleared beyond the blueline. The first person to it was Marleau and he was off to the races. As he closed in on Turco, he coolly sent the puck five-hole to complete the rally and give San Jose their first win of the trip.
San Jose will travel to Los Angeles for a 7:30 p.m. Friday night showdown with Pacific Division leaders. The game will be on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX (7 p.m. for the pregame) and sjsharks.com.