The Sharks came up with another big victory at home, a rowdy 3-2 overtime win. My night at the Tank was a real barn-burner. Here's the run-down.
In the first, neither team took many chances, but there were plenty penalties to be accounted for. The Sharks power play looked stiff and failed to more than one shot on goal in the first two chances. Both teams were playing well in the neutral zone, and the Sharks forecheckers, especially Mike Grier, established a presence early and would force many turnovers throughout the night. Dallas, though, was winning the races and battles for loose pucks. Still, the five-on-five play was nearly a dead heat through most of the period, with the Stars building an advantage in shots on goal in the second half of the frame. As the intensity increased, the Sharks were leaving it all out on the ice, never hesitating to lay out and block shots.
By the time Christian Erhoff carelessly took a crosschecking penalty against Stars rabble-rouser Steve Ott, Dallas went to the man-advantage looking hungry and commanding with the puck. The Sharks were successful in killing the penalty, but the momentum swung against them. The Stars got the first goal of the game on a sharp rebound shot in the following seconds.
The second period quickly escalated the intensity of the game. Three minutes in, there were a number of penalties and a game misconduct issued against Dallas. For some reason, recently recalled RW B.J. Crombeen took issue with a clean hit by Kyle McLaren on another Star. Crombeen skated over and immediately dropped his gloves. The Sharks blue-liner did not hesitate to get into it, and while not many punches were thrown, it was clear that McLaren dominated through sheer strength. Clearly an instigator call, Crombeen took the misconduct, the minor for instigating, and five for fighting, giving the Sharks a power play. Joe Pavelski took a clean cross-ice pass from Captain Patrick Marleau and got a slap-shot by goalie Marty Turco to tie the game.
Penalties continued to define the matchup. McLaren went to the box for hooking at 10:49, but the Stars were shaken by San Jose's second period intensity. The Dallas power play forked over two shorthanded breakaways, the first by Grier and the second by Curtis Brown, who got off a high wrister that had Turco beat but went off the post. Shortly after, the Sharks were called for too many men on the ice. In the ensuing 5-on-3, Jere Lehtinen beat Nabokov with a one-timer from the left face-off circle. Coming out of the box, Setoguchi had another breakaway chance on Turco, but the goalie got the stop.
Waiting through the second intermission felt like watching the grass grow. Fortunately, they had three clowns (not literally) racing tractors to pass the time.
While still physical, the third was wide-open and much faster two-way hockey than the previous periods. Breaking into the Dallas zone, Mike Grier made a perfect backhand pass across to Joe Thorton, who found the back of the net to tie the game. Both teams were playing strong in the third, but the Sharks were maintaining momentum. It looked as if the Stars might give up the lead when Michalek got a pass in front of the two defensemen and cut across the crease. It looked like he had Turco beat, but Marty got a goal-line stick save on the best chance the Sharks would have to win it in the final regulation frame. It was an impressive save, especially after a rather embarrassing incident that lead to taunts from the crowd.
When an iced puck came out of the Sharks zone along the boards, Turco left the net to meet it behind the goal. But the puck never made it there – the line judge was not quick enough to get out of the way and it took an awkward bounce. Afraid of where the puck might end up, Turco scrambled and fell behind the goal line. The Sharks fans let him have it, and took every chance to distract him after that. The final minutes of the third brought another PP chance for Dallas, but the San Jose penalty killing unit made the strongest showing of the night, lead by the quick stick of Mike Grier.
The overtime period was intense. The Sharks were playing well, but their record in overtime and shoot-outs never fails to worry their loyal fans. Yet again, penalties decided the direction of the game, seemingly to the Sharks advantage. Just over a minute into the sudden-death period, Marty Turco let his anger - or maybe the fans – get to him. Pavelski played a puck behind the goal line and was greeted by a high stick from the Dallas netminder, well behind the play. It was a double-minor that electrified the building, both in loathing of Turco and in excitement for the man advantage.
I have to admit that I have been a fan of Turco for some time now, and one reason for that is his emotional play. He is among the best active goalies in the league. This, however, was not an admirable move, especially in overtime. There was not a single person in the tank who didn't know that the error would cost them the game.
Yet, even this would not keep the desperate Stars down for the count. Off a weak pass and bobble by Brian Cambell, Mike Modano used his great breakaway speed to go at Nabokov all alone for the improbable win. He lost the puck as he approached the sprawled Sharks goaltender and it skipped just wide. But Modano was quick to play it off the boards, and Nabokov was barely able to make a goal-line stick save of his own. Jeremy Roenick came back in a hurry to give some much-needed help in keeping Modano from forcing it home. It was so close that the Captain of the Stars threw his stick up, thinking he had the game-winner. On the resulting Sharks rush, Pavelski drew yet another penalty, this time for hooking, giving the Sharks an additional skater.
It was only a matter of time, then. Joe Thronton set up low in the circle, as usual, and was looking to hit Marleau in the crease. Instead, he hit the defender, but it was just as well. The puck slipped past Turco and the Sharks had their first home ice victory against Dallas this season.
Looking ahead: The Sharks will have to clean up their power play and get to more of the loose pucks to keep their steak alive in Anaheim tonight. J.S. Giguere is not likely to hand over the game like Turco did, but the Ducks take a lot of penalties, and the Sharks need to capitalize. It's going to be a rough go for our Sharks against the goon squad of the Pacific, one day after a physical OT win. The Sharks seem very willing to give it their all as of late, though.