Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau
scored his second short-handed goal in as many nights to spark San Jose's 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the Dallas Stars in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals on Wednesday night in Dallas.
Milan Michalek netted the game winner in the third period to keep the Sharks playoff hopes alive as the team returns to San Jose for Game Five trailing 3-1 in this best-of-seven series.
To start the game, Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson inserted defenseman Matt Carle in place of Alexei Semenov and veteran Curtis Brown into Marcel Goc’s position up front.
Both clubs had early scoring chances with San Jose’s coming from Marleau and Mike Grier, but Marty Turco managed to make the saves. Milan Michalek also had two bombs coming down the left side in the first four minutes, but Turco answered those challenges as well.
Team Teal had two early power play opportunities, but came up empty on both and the game remained scoreless.
Evgeni Nabokov faced an enormous test as the period passed the midway point when Brenden Morrow laced a pass to the stick of a driving Niklas Hagman. The Sharks Vezina candidate timed his movement perfectly and intercepted the shot just as it left Hagman’s stick in the crease.
With 7:51 left in the first, Dallas took to their first power play when Jeremy Roenick was whistled for hooking, but an aggressive penalty kill kept Dallas off the scoreboard.
When San Jose took to their third power play of the period with less than four minutes left in the opening stanza, the best scoring chance went to the Stars. However, as Jere Lehtinen blasted one toward the top corner, Nabokov flashed the glove and gobbled up the puck.
The Sharks had only four shots in the first period and just one came in the six minutes of power play time.
San Jose was crashing the net hard to begin the second and Joe Pavelski
and Brown both created opportunities that Turco was forced to react on. San Jose had the only five shots in the first five minutes of the second period.
When Dallas finally took a shot, they made it count. A turnover by Devin Setoguchi put the puck on the stick of Lehtinen and he had plenty of time to get set and roof the wrister.
It looked like things would get worse for San Jose when Dallas took to their second power play and was moving the puck crisply. Then, just like Game Three, Marleau jumped out on a breakaway and skated in on Turco shorthanded. And just like Game Three, Marleau’s shot found the back of the net, this time tying the contest at one.
A strong even strength shift by the Stars deep in San Jose’s end forced Nabokov to fight through bodies to located a loose puck in the crease with three minutes left, but as he’d done all game, Nabokov made the big stop.
With 2:28 left in the second, Joel Lundqvist tripped up Pavelski and the Sharks had a chance at late power play. When that came up short the two clubs headed to the break tied at one, ensuring a fourth-straight game that would be even in the final stanza.
When Mike Modano sent the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty early in the third, San Jose’s power play finally struck. A Joe Thornton
pass into the crease with traffic was redirected by Michalek and the Sharks had a 2-1 third-period lead.
With 6:59 left in regulation, Loui Eriksson was sent to the penalty box, taking away two valuable minutes of attack time for the Stars. When the power play expired, Dallas had just five minutes to find the tying tally.
The Stars were unable to score over the next four minutes and with one minute remaining, Turco left the net to give the Stars the extra attacker. While everyone in San Jose held their breath, Dallas put an offensive press on the Sharks for sixty seconds. A glove save by Nabokov and a great clear by Greir allowed San Jose to hold onto their lead and secure the 2-1 victory.
The series will now go back to San Jose for Game Five on Friday, May 2 at 7:00 PM (Pacific).