San Jose’s skid crept to three-games on Sunday afternoon, as the Sharks fell 5-2 to the Dallas Stars. Finally ending a 190:22 goalless drought, the longest in franchise history, the Sharks scored twice in the third period to make it 4-2, but the Stars (35-21-2, 72 pts) piled on an empty-net goal to pull within one point of the Sharks (36-22-1, 73 pts) in the race for the Pacific Division.
for video highlights from Sunday’s game.
After scoring six goals in the first two periods against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night, the Sharks were shutout in back-to-back games against Nashville and Columbus on Wednesday night and Friday night respectively. Entering Sunday afternoon’s game against Dallas, the Sharks looked to snap their seven-period goalless drought and get back to their winning ways by downing the streaking Stars.
Though San Jose’s early forecheck was more persistent than in games past, Dallas broke through and got on the scoreboard first. Dallas forward Stu Barnes redirected an innocent looking shot by Sergei Zubov in behind Evgeni Nabokov. The goal gave Dallas the early 1-0 lead with 13:29 to play in the first.
With the early 1-0 lead, Dallas seemed content to play a defensive brand of hockey. The Sharks matched Dallas’ defensive style of play and with 8:10 remaining in the first, Kyle McLaren made a statement. McLaren buried Stars forward Niklas Hagman with a huge hip check, letting the Stars know the price they had to pay to enter the Sharks zone.
Taking exception to the hit, Dallas goon Krys Barch went after McLaren as the two dropped the gloves with 5:25 to go in the first. McLaren earned the decision, landing a pair of heavy rights before knocking Barch to the ice. Although Barch’s sweater was clearly not tied down during the scrap, he avoided the game misconduct as each player received fighting majors.
Christian Ehrhoff was called on a questionable slashing penalty with four seconds to play in the first, sending Dallas on the power play. But the period closed with Dallas leading 1-0 after 20 minutes.
After killing the remaining 1:56 of Ehrhoff’s minor to open the second period, the Sharks battled back with consecutive shifts of sustained pressure in the Dallas zone. Captain Patrick Marleau
was paired on a line with Joe Thornton
and Jonathan Cheechoo and the three combined for a pair of shots on Marty Turco. However Turco, who only faced five shots in the first, made the saves to preserve the 1-0 Stars lead.
With 14:52 to play in the second, Douglas Murray
continued the physical play by the Sharks, planting a huge hit on Dallas’ Mike Modano. The forward danced into the Sharks zone before being laid out by a clean shoulder hit on the half-boards to Nabokov’s left, courtesy of Murray.
San Jose’s misfortune continued with 4:55 to play in the second. Dallas extended their lead to 2-0, scoring on a faceoff play in the Sharks zone. Dallas forward Mike Ribeiro won the faceoff to Nabokov’s right, then crashed the net. A fortuitous Dallas bounce found the puck on Ribeiro’s stick after a deflection in traffic and Ribeiro buried the puck into the wide-open San Jose net.
Nabokov made a pair of sensational stops with 1:23 and at 27 seconds to go in the second, but with 16 seconds to go in the period, Dallas took a commanding 3-0 lead. Jere Lehtinen put the puck into a wide-open net after a textbook passing play. Zubov moved the puck from the point to Nabokov’s right. Zubov then dished to Modano who set up at the bottom of the circles to Nabokov’s left who found a wide-open Lehtinen in the slot for the 3-0 lead.
The first shift after Dallas’ third goal, Patrick Rissmiller drew a penalty on Jaroslav Modry after landing a big hit while in on the forecheck. Modry retaliated with a cross-check on Rissmiller, sending San Jose on their first power play of the game.
The remaining two seconds in the period expired and after 40 minutes of play, the Stars lead 3-0.
Operating on a power play, the Sharks broke through and snapped the longest goal drought in franchise history. At 18:08 to go in the third, Milan Michalek broke into the Dallas zone on his off-wing, curled and dished the puck to Marc-Edouard Vlasic
at the point. Vlasic fired the slap shot which deflected off Barnes’ stick then off of Mark Bell’s leg and into the Dallas net making it 3-1.
The Stars would need just 67 seconds however to regain the three-goal lead. Just 30 seconds into a Cheechoo minor for tripping, Ribeiro made it 4-1 deflecting a Zubov shot past Nabokov.
Shots by Mike Grier and Tomas Plihal on the shifts after Ribeiro’s second goal gave the Sharks some life, but the Sharks were unable to beat Turco who had an efficient day in net.
Grier and Turco again met with 6:45 to go in the third, but this time it was Grier who got the best of the exchange. Thornton made a sensational play around the Stars net and found Grier who planted himself on the edge of the Dallas crease. Grier jammed home the puck to make it 4-2, a goal that seemed to inspire a struggling Sharks team.
Over the next three shifts, the Sharks dominated play but were unable to close on Dallas’ two-goal advantage. The Sharks forecheck and offensive zone pressure overwhelmed the Stars and forced Loui Eriksson to take a tripping minor with just 3:17 remaining.
The Sharks pulled Nabokov and operated on the six-on-four advantage, but Lehtinen disrupted the Sharks comeback plans chipping an entry play at the Dallas line into the Sharks net for the shorthanded empty-net goal to make it 5-2.
Sunday afternoon’s contest between the San Jose Sharks and the Dallas Stars seemed resemble the old NHL more than the new NHL. At 14:15 of the first, an inadvertent collision between referee Rob Shick and Mike Grier knocked Shick to the ice and out of the game. Shick made a gritty return to the ice to open the second period, but was unable to continue leaving the two teams to play under the old NHL's one-referee system.
Already plagued by several key injuries, the Sharks received no help from their travel schedule as Curtis Brown was unable to join the team in Dallas in time for Sunday afternoon’s game. Brown, who was in San Jose for the birth of his son, was unable to get a flight into Dallas and missed his second consecutive game.
Captain Patrick Marleau
made his return to the lineup after missing just a game with upper body soreness, Marcel Goc battled through the a bad case of flu-like symptoms to start at center, Evgeni Nabokov started back-to-back games for the first time this season as Vesa Toskala took some extra time to recover from a tweaked groin and Tomas Plihal made his return to the lineup after being recalled from Worcester (AHL) on Saturday.
Clowe – Thornton – Cheechoo
Michalek – Marleau – Grier
Plihal – Bell – Rissmiller
Nieminen – Goc – Darche
Ehrhoff – Vlasic
Murray – Hannan
McLaren – Carle
Nabokov – Toskala
The Sharks continue on their season-long, eight-game road trip as they travel to Washington to take on Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals on Wednesday night. Game time is set for 4:00 PM (Pacific) and will be broadcast on FSN Bay Area, KFOX 98.5 FM, Sharks Radio Network affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.