Looking to extend their current seven game home ice winning streak, the San Jose Sharks played host to the Pacific Division leading Dallas Stars in a matinee game Saturday at HP Pavilion. Shootout goals by Antti Miettinen and Mike Modano were enough to give the Stars their 10th shootout victory of the season, and a 4-3 victory over the Sharks.
Nils Ekman made his return to the lineup after sitting out last game due to the birth of his first child Melvin. Vesa Toskala made his fifth consecutive start in an attempt to better veteran goaltender Marty Turco at the other end of the ice.
Team Teal started the game off as they did the other night against St. Louis, a bit sluggish. Dallas hadn’t scored in the first eight minutes of the contest, but the Sharks were having trouble in their own end, turning over pucks and not getting any scoring threats on their opposition.
The Sharks headed on their first power play of the contest 13 minutes into the game when Jussi Jokinen was called for tripping Christian Ehrhoff. The Sharks still continued to struggle keeping the puck in Dallas’ end and the penalty went awry without even a shot on goal.
Scott Parker was called for hooking with just over four minutes left in the first. It took 23 seconds for the Stars to take advantage when Modano drove the net and instead of shooting, fed a streaking Jere Lehtinen who took advantage of a defenseless Toskala. The netminder had been interfered with when a Stars player came crashing into the net. The goal went under review, but the tally stood and the Stars had the 1-0 lead.
With 2:06 left on the game clock, the Sharks looked to tie the game at one before heading to the locker room when Brenden Morrow was called for hooking Ekman. As San Jose set up their attack, Ekman was highsticked in the face, but was somehow given two minutes for interference and the power play was over. The first period expired as the Stars headed to the locker room with their one goal lead intact.
San Jose killed off the Stars advantage, but when play returned to even strength, Toskala was called upon for a big save. Jaroslav Svoboda made a slick stickhandling move to avoid the defensive play of Josh Gorges and was left alone on Toskala. Svoboda tried to cut across to the far side, but Toskala cut him off and made the save.
San Jose nearly tied it seven minutes into the period. Alyn McCauley slid behind his defender and looked for a clean shot on Turco. With a defender diving in at his feet, the first shot was stopped. McCauley tried to bank the rebound off a defender in the crease, and when that didn’t go, Nieminen crashed the party trying to tie the game. The puck managed not to cross the line and the deficit was still one.
On their next power play, Dallas made it 2-0. An initial shot bounced off Toskala and into the air. The first person to it was Niko Kapanen and he knocked it in for the Stars second tally.
The goal was an obvious negative, but it pumped life into the Sharks as they began peppering Turco, rattling off the games next six shots. The McCauley line alone kept the puck in the Dallas zone for close to 40 seconds.
On the eighth consecutive shot, they would score their first goal of the contest. A rush led by Ekman was thwarted, but Ekman regained control and he found Joe Thornton. The pass to Nieminen resulted in a shot and when he gathered the rebound, he lifted it upstairs on Turco to make it a 2-1 affair. It also marked Nieminen’s first goal as a Shark.
San Jose’s ninth consecutive shot would tie the contest. As the puck appeared headed out of the zone, Nieminen caught up with it at the blue line and fired it toward the net. Patrick Rissmiller tipped it out front for his first career NHL goal.
The flurry continued as on consecutive shot number 10, Team Teal took the lead. This time is was rookie Milan Michalek. He took a pass at the blue line from Steve Bernier and then skated around John Klemm. With Turco hugging the post, Michalek cut in toward the far post and lifted the backhand for the 3-2 lead at the intermission.
Five minutes into the third, the defenses were clamping down as just one shot was posted between both clubs. However when Dallas posted their second shot of the stanza, they tied the game at three. Mike Modano used his speed to get behind the defense and skated in alone on Toskala. Modano skated across the crease, forcing Toskala to the ice. The veteran center then lifted the puck and sent it to the back of the net.
Michalek looked to put San Jose up again near the third period’s midway point. A perfect feed at the blueline sent him in on Turco, but he was tripped up from behind and the shot was stopped.
On the following play, Jason Arnott was sent to the box for hooking and San Jose played up a man for two minutes. San Jose could not convert on their fourth power play and the game remained knotted at two.
With three minutes remaining, Nieminen gave the crowd a thrill when he skated in, kept the puck and used the 360 degree spin to gain space on his defender. He controlled the play behind Turco, but his centering pass was intercepted and the game remained even.
WIth 42 seconds left, Willie Mitchell was whistled for tripping and the Sharks went on the power play in an attempt to win the game. Team Teal couldn't convert in regulation and the game headed to overtime.
Mitchell's penalty expired and the game was back to four-on-four with just over three minutes remaining in the overtime stanza. With 42 seconds remaining, however, Cheechoo was whistled for holding.
The Sharks managed to escape the 42 second advantage and the game headed to a shootout.
It would be a tall order for the Sharks, as Dallas was a perfect 9-0 in shootouts heading into today's.
Sergei Zubov started things off, but he's backhander was turned away by Toskala. Bernier was up next, and Turco matched and made the save. Jokinen, who was a perfect nine-for-nine heading into his shot, missed his shot. Michalek followed and slipped one past Turco. It was up to Modano to keep the shootout going, and his attempt went top shelf on Toskala, tying the shootout at one.
Cheechoo followed and couldn't convert, sending the shootout to a fourth round. Miettinen was next and he buried his shot five hole. Ekman was up next for the Sharks, but he couldn't convert and the game was won by the Stars, 4-3.
The Sharks will return to action tomorrow night when they play host to the Colorado Avalanche in their final game of the six-game home stand. The game can be seen on FSN Bay Area and heard on the Sharks Radio Network and sjsharks.com.