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Win streak snapped on 3rd period letdown
Stars score a pair of goals in the final period to steal win
3/5/11 - By Mike Lee -

The eight game winning streak ended on Saturday night in a game reminiscent of the January letdowns that were seemingly always capped by 3rd period letdowns. San Jose would blow a 3rd period lead to the visiting Dallas Stars, dropping a 3-2 decision on home ice. The loss was the first for the Sharks since February 13th, and the first on home ice since the end of January. A lack of energy in that final period against a team that played an overtime game a day earlier was the defining moment.

Journeyman center Jason Williams scored a late goal to help the Stars complete the comeback, but San Jose reverted to a mistake-riddled game that was too similar to the six-game stretch in January that resulted in losses.

The Stars blew a two goal lead in Anaheim last night, so they seemed destined to dish out a little of the same. They would achieve that with more energy than their opponent. That was evident from the first few minutes of the game.

The Sharks retain the 3rd seed in the Western Conference standings, but they lost ground to Vancuver and Detroit, who both picked up points on Saturday night.

San Jose would induce Dallas into a penalty when Karlis Skrastins sent a puck over the glass 1 minute into the contest, but Dallas would turn the tables on an overly aggressive power play by scoring a short-handed goal. Stephane Robidas would chip an errant Sharks pass to Jamie Benn up ice for a breakaway chance that Benn would slip through Antti Niemi's five-hole. The Sharks had pinched too far in the Stars zone allowing Robidas to spring Benn.

San Jose would tie the game 8 minutes later on a strong push in the Stars zone, when Kyle Wellwood, deflected a Torrey Mitchell pass on the Stars doorstep past Kari Lehtonen. A strong forecheck and some persistence by Joe Pavelski and Mitchell kept the puck pinned in the Dallas zone, before string together two passes to setup Wellwood's 4th goal of the season.

Dalles would turn up the heat with 5 minutes left in the period, which turned into several quality chances for the visitors. Tom Wandell just missed on a redirect chance from Steve Ott with 3:45 to play in the period, but the shot missed just wide of the left post.

Patrick Marleau would give San Jose the lead early in the 2nd period on a pretty setup from Dany Heatley. The Sharks busted out of their own zone after Niemi defelcted a shot back out to the blueline. Heatley scooped up the rebound and raced up ice, before feathering a pass to Marleau on the left side for the flip shot past Lehtonen.

Niemi would be called for a questionable delay of game penalty, when referee Wes McCauley ruled that the Sharks netminder played the puck in the restricted area outside the trapezoid. McCauley was behind Niemi, and replays never showed the puck in the area to the right of the Sharks goal.

Jeff Woywitka would clank a shot off the right post on the Stars power play, but that's as close as Dallas would come to scoring on the man-advantage.

Rookie defenseman Justin Braun would catch the post with a shot three minutes later. The puck bounced to the right corner, where Robidas tried to control it. He wound be rewarded with a Ben Eager shoulder that leveled him for his efforts.

Lehtonen would stop a Pavelski shot from point blank range midway through the period, but he failed to cover it, drawing a swarm of Sharks to the Stars crease. The Stars goaltender would fall awkwardly on the puck, as bodies piled up around him.

The Sharks dodged a bullet late in the period when Brendan Morrow had a wide open net to shoot on, but he fired the puck into teammate Mike Ribeiro's skate, denying the would-be goal.

The Steve Ott circus would make an appearance with 3 seconds left in the period, after he left his feet to lay a check on Jason Demers. The move would earn a two minute trip to the box, but when Logan Couture attempted to retaliate, Ott obliged earning the pair two minutes each for roughing. Demers took exception to the hit and tried going after Ott, but linesman Brian Mach stepped between the two. That would earn Mach a face full of Demers fist, who misfired on a punch that was intended to Ott. Demers would not be penalized, much to the surprise of Demers who immediately skated to the dressing room.

Since all of that came so late in the period, the Sharks would start the 3rd with essentially a full two minute power play. That opportunity would go squandered as the Sharks did little create any pressure on Lehtonen.

Dallas would score the equalizer at 7:37 of the period on a shot from the right side after the Stars pushed the puck up ice. Mark Fistric put a shot on Niemi, that was blocked but not cleared. The puck ended up right on Loui Eriksson's stick for the 10-foot shot past Niemi.

Ryane Clowe would get called for goaltender interference after Fistric pushed the Sharks forward into Lehtonen midway through the period. San Jose would kill the penalty, but it would set the tone for the remainder of the period.

Williams would give the Stars the lead with 7:12 left in regulation after his sweeping shot hit Heatley's stick and deflected between Niemi's pads. San Jose failed to play with any urgency in their own end, allowing Dallas to grab the late lead.

The Sharks would get a power play chance with 3:44 to play after Toby Petersen laid a cross-check across Wellwood's back. The Sharks would fail to capitalize on that chance and gave up a breakaway chance after Petersen's penalty expired. Neimi would stop Peteresen, but the real killer was the failure to generate a goal with the man-advantage. San Jose went 0-for-3 with the extra skater.

Game Notes:

The penalty on Niemi was the first called on the netminder in his NHL career. Antero Niittymaki came off the injured reserve and was in the lineup. Carter Hutton was returned to Worcester with Niittymaki's return.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
DAL 1 0 2 3
SJ 1 1 0 2
1st period - 1, DAL, Benn 16 (Robidas), 1:19, (sh). 2, SJ, Wellwood 4 (Mitchell, Pavelski), 9:55.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Marleau 26 (Heatley), 1:22.
3rd period - 4, DAL, Ericksson 21 (Fistric, Benn), 7:37. 5, DAL, Williams 1 (Ott, Daley), 12:48
Penalties
1st period - Skrastins, DAL (delay of game - puck over glass), 1:00; Robidas, DAL (slashing), 2:51; Heatley, SJ (cross checking), 2:51.
2nd period - Niemi, SJ (delay of game - smothering puck), 3:24; Ott, DAL (charging), 19:57; Ott, DAL (roughing), 19:57; Couture, SJ (roughing), 19:57.
3rd period - Clowe, SJ (goaltender interference), 9:35; Petersen, DAL (cross checking), 16:16.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
DAL - Lehtonen 31 29
SJ - Niemi 28 25
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
DAL 11 7 10 28
SJ 8 11 12 31
Power Play Conversion
DAL 0 of 2
SJ 0 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Jamie Benn
Patrick Marleau
Alex Goligoski
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: McCauley, Pochmara. Linesmen: Mach, Wheler.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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