In their last home game before the Olympic break, the San Jose Sharks played host to the Pacific Division-leading Dallas Stars. Thanks to two-goal efforts from Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo, the Sharks defeated the Stars by the final score of 6-3.
Looking to ride his current hot streak, the Sharks sent Vesa Toskala to the net to square off against Marty Turco.
It took just 20 seconds for Dallas to manage their first shot on goal when Dallas Captain Mike Modano skated the puck down the ice and backhanded a shot on goal. Toskala turned the shot away and the Sharks were able to clear the zone.
Seven minutes into the game, Dallas struck first. Modano fired a slapshot from the left faceoff circle that slipped past Toskala and the Stars took the 1-0 lead.
Milan Michalek had a chance to tie it one minute after Modano’s goal, but his nifty stick work didn’t catch Turco off guard and the netminder stoned him on the attempt.
The Stars would get the first power play of the night midway through the frame when Joe Thornton
was called for hooking. San Jose did a good job of keeping the puck out of their own end and fought off the penalty.
With Nils Ekman in tight on Turco, the Sharks had their best opportunity of the game when Jon Klemm gave a massive cross-check to the winger sending the Sharks on their first power play of the evening. With 48 seconds left in the penalty, San Jose received a five-on-three when Janne Niinimaa was whistled for hooking Michalek.
Just after the first penalty expired, the Sharks took advantage when Thornton wristed a shot on net. Cheechoo looked to deflect the puck but missed, throwing Turco off and allowing Joe to get it past Turco. Thornton notched his 20th goal of the season and tied the game at one.
With just over three minutes left in the opening period, Martin Skoula headed to the sin bin for holding Michalek. San Jose couldn’t capitalize, however, and the Stars went back to full strength.
Niko Dimitrakos was called for tripping Brenden Morrow with 19 seconds left in the first. The teams headed to the locker rooms knotted at one.
San Jose looked to kill the remainder of the Dallas power play when the second began and they easily accomplished their task.
Six minutes into the period, San Jose would take the lead due to some hard work and a lucky break. Cheechoo carried the puck behind the Stars net, beginning a cycle. When Thornton took his turn with the biscuit, he centered the puck to the slot for Cheechoo. The Moose Factory, Ontario native was being spun around by a Dallas defender with his back to Turco. The puck struck his skate and deflected into the net. Cheechoo had a look of shock at first, not knowing what happened. Whether he knew it or not, he had put San Jose up 2-1.
San Jose looked to make it a two-goal lead when Dimitrakos’ stickhandling in the Dallas zone created a power play. San Jose worked the puck around Turco for the entire advantage, with the puck never leaving the zone. Then, with seven seconds left on the penalty, their efforts were rewarded. Thornton found Cheechoo across the slot and the right winger let go a shot that scored a more conventional goal. Midway through the contest, San Jose was up 3-1.
Five minutes later it was 4-1, with Milan Michalek starting to rev up his offensive engine. The goal came courtesy of a brilliant defensive play by the Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau
. With Brenden Morrow attempting to clear Dallas’ defensive zone, Marleau came charging back into the zone and picked off Morrow’s clearing attempt. He kept charging toward the net, drew two defenders, and then chipped the puck forward to Michalek. The Czech forward simply forced Turco to commit and softly pushed the shot top shelf.
San Jose was not done for the period. After some great individual work behind the net by Grant Stevenson, he fed Alyn McCauley who fired a tough angle-shot on net. Turco could not handle it cleanly with his glove hand and it bounced out. Before it could hit the ground, the puck hit the shaft of Modano’s stick and ricocheted into the net. San Jose had turned four unanswered goals into a 5-1 lead at the intermission, tying their season-high for most goals in one period.
Early in the third, Dallas showed why they are the division leaders as they attempted to rally. A Marin Skoula shot was redirected by Niklas Hagman and with fourteen minutes left in the third, it was 5-2.
Less than a minute later, Dallas would make it a two-goal game on an odd bounce. While behind the Sharks net Steve Ott’s pass was deflected about Toskala and landed in the slot. Stu Barnes was the first player to the puck and he flicked it behind Toskala.
Each team had a goal from an odd bounce, but San Jose still had a two-goal lead with 13 minutes remaining.
A call that went against Ehrhoff gave the Stars a chance to pull within one at the period’s midway point. San Jose fended off the power play to maintain their lead.
Team Teal did their best to add some cushioning to the game when Joe Thornton
’s line circled around Turco and fired a couple of shots that came close. A few sifts later, Mark Smith deflected a Scott Thornton shot and it rang off the post.
Dallas pulled Turco with 1:31 left in the contest in favor of an extra attacker. It backfired on them however as Marleau fed Michalek streaking down the ice and the winger chipped in the puck from the blueline, giving the Sharks the 6-3 lead.
San Jose drained the final 45 seconds off the clock and the Sharks skated off with the 6-3 victory.
In their last contest before the Olympic Break, the Sharks will travel Saturday to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes Sunday at 5:00 p.m. The game can be seen on FSN Bay Area and heard on the Sharks Radio Network and sjsharks.com.