The Dallas Stars showed resiliency in overcoming two-goal deficits twice in a 5-4 shootout win in San Jose Sunday, and it’s a sign that they aren’t about to go quietly in the Western Conference playoff race either.
The Stars, thought by many to be dead in the water after trading away Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy and Brenden Morrow prior to last week’s NHL trade deadline, have won two in a row and are still in the thick of things in the hunt for a playoff spot.
“They (people who think the Stars are done) can keep thinking that,” said Dallas forward Jamie Benn, who had two assists and scored the lone goal in the shootout. “The only thing that matters is what we believe in this dressing room. It’s not going to be pretty some nights, but the effort is going to be there and the heart and the character. I think you saw part of that tonight.”
The win moved the Stars (18-17-3) into tenth place in the West, four points out of the final playoff spot and they have a game in hand on eighth-place Detroit. But the Stars still have a lot of work to do.
“With the situation we’re in every game is pretty important. If we are going to have any chance at all, it is going to have to be a pretty impressive run here at the end,” said Stars forward Ray Whitney, who had two assists. “If you look at these guys (San Jose), they hit a hot streak at the right time and it catapulted them up in the standings. For us to have any chance at the playoffs, we’re going to have to go on a similar run. You’re going to have to win on the road. That’s just a fact of life.”
The Stars overcame 2-0 and 4-2 deficits in the game to snap San Jose’s seven-game winning streak and hand the Sharks the only loss of their just concluded seven-game homestand.
“That was incredible,” said Stars forward Alex Chiasson, who scored two goals in the game. “Down by two goals twice and we came back twice in the game. We just kept believing.”
The Sharks took a 1-0 lead in the first period on a Tommy Wingels goal from the slot and then extended it to 2-0 early in the second when Brent Burns scored off the rush.
But the Stars answered quickly, scoring two goals in a 26-second span to tie the game. After winning a puck battle along the boards, Stars forward Eric Nystrom went to net and took a pass from Vernon Fiddler and scored just 35 seconds after Burns.
The Stars tied it 26 seconds later when a Benn shot was blocked, but Chiasson drove in and banged the rebound past Sharks goalie Antti Niemi to make it a 2-2 game at 4:07 of the second period.
But the Sharks answered a little more than three minutes later, when Raffi Torres forced a Dallas turnover and set up T.J. Galiardi, who scored off a spinning backhand shot from the right circle at 7:48 of the second.
San Jose made it 4-2 late in the second when defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored on a wrap-around that didn’t officially become a goal until after a lengthy review. There was one camera angle that did show the puck crossing the goal line.
But the Stars, who came into the game just 1-12-0 when trailing after two periods, bounced back to tie the game in the third period.
After a San Jose turnover in the neutral zone, Benn got the puck to Whitney, who threaded a pass to Chiasson, who directed the puck past Niemi to make it a 4-3 game with 13:53 remaining.
“It’s the Wizard, anything can happen with him,” Chiasson said of Whitney’s assist. “He put it right on my tape, I put it between the goalie’s legs and there it was.”
The Stars tied it a little more than three minutes later when Matt Fraser put a shot on net from the left wing off the rush and Loui Eriksson banged home the rebound to make it a 4-4 game with 10:46 remaining in regulation.
After a scoreless overtime, where both teams had good chances – Logan Couture had a redirect stopped by Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen and Eriksson hit a post – the two teams headed to the shootout. Benn scored for the Stars, beating Niemi with a wrist shot to the blocker side. Lehtonen stopped Couture, Dan Boyle and Burns to give the Stars the come-from-behind win.
“People counting us out on two fronts, but we are going to battle and you could see that tonight in the resiliency of the group,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “It’s just one day at a time.”
The Sharks, who fell to 14-1-5 at home this season, finished their seven-game homestand with a 6-0-1 record and saw a seven-game overall winning streak come to an end.
“I didn’t like our game, basically the whole night,” said San Jose coach Todd McLellan. “It was great that we were able to score four, but we had a lot of key, key people– high-minute, high-end players– that really didn’t perform very well. Some of the workers worked, but we need more from those guys heading out on the road.”
Notes: MacDermid misses game
*Stars forward Lane MacDermid missed Sunday’s game due to an upper body injury suffered in Friday’s win in Anaheim.
“We’re going to have our doctors take a look at him, but it shouldn’t be a long-term thing,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “We just want to make sure we’re doing the right thing.”
Gulutzan said the injury was not head related.
*Stars forward Alex Chiasson has scored three goals in the last two games.
*The Stars are 2-0-0 against San Jose this season.
*The Stars improved to 2-12-0 in games when they’ve trailed after two periods.
*The Stars are now 4-12-1 when their opponent scores the first goal of the game.
*The Stars are 4-3 in the game settled beyond regulation. They are 2-1 in shootouts and 2-2 in games settled in four-on-four overtime.