San Jose visited Dallas for the third time this year after two previous victories and made it three wins in a row (against Dallas and overall) thanks to a monster effort from Joe Thornton
. Jumbo Joe directly set up Jonathan Cheechoo and Patrick Marleau
for goals, then scored the game-winner himself in the 3-2 victory. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 17 of 19 Stars shots to shield the nets.
The Sharks were without Kyle McLaren who was back in Canada due to passing of his grandmother. Marty Turco started for the Stars on the night.
The Stars opened the evening with a four point Pacific Division lead on Team Teal, but the Sharks entered with the NHL’s best road record and finished the night just one victory from the division lead.
Strong work in the opening seconds provided the Sharks with the game’s first power play, but San Jose could capitalize. At even strength moments later, Jonathan Cheechoo and Joe Thornton
had a two-on-one, but Cheechoo’s pass couldn’t get through to his centerman.
Nabokov was strong in the first 10 minutes, making stops on Dallas’ best early attacks, and continued his stellar play all night.
Late in the first stanza, Patrick Rissmiller drew a Stars penalty and the Sharks used the chance to take a 1-0 lead. Thornton fed Cheechoo down low and the former “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner centered it across the crease. Stu Barnes reached in to stop the puck and poked it past Turco, giving Cheechoo his first power play goal of the season.
San Jose would take the 1-0 lead into the break.
The Stars would even the contest early in the second when Trevor Daly, who had not scored all year, skated from one end of the ice to the other and wristed a seeing-eye puck past Nabokov by using Christian Ehrhoff as a screen.
San Jose would not wait long to respond and this time Thornton got Patrick Marleau
’s mojo going. Somehow, Thornton threw a blind cross-ice pass through the high slot that was right on the money to the open Marleau. The Captain simply flicked the puck into the net to again provide a one-goal lead.
Past the game’s midway point, back-to-back penalties provided San Jose with a brief five-on-three and extended power play time, but they could not make it a two goal lead.
When the middle period concluded, Team Teal was up 2-1.
Dallas once again tied the contest early after an intermission. Six minutes into the third, Loui Eriksson came in alone on Nabokov and forced him to guard against the shot down to the goal post. Eriksson then skated behind the net and fed Modano to the far side. The highest scoring American-born forward in NHL history quickly slapped the puck across the line before Nabokov could slide over, tying the contest at two.
Again the Sharks would respond. And again Thornton was directly involved. This time Thornton saw Michalek skating strong up ice and the All-Star center dumped it in deep for his winger to chase down. Michalek then avoided his defender and slid the puck up the middle where everyone could see it, but where no one had located the charging Thornton. The pass found its intended recipient and Thornton added a goal to his two assists.
The Sharks had not surrendered a power play all game, but back-to-back calls against Mike Grier and Craig Rivet provided Dallas with 47 seconds of five-on-three time in the closing minutes. The five-on-three was killed off, but then Dallas pulled Turco while still up a man.
Team Teal fended off the second power play with Turco pulled and secured their third consecutive victory and earned their seventh point in their last four games.
The Sharks will play Phoenix Friday night at 6 p.m. and the game will be available on 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.