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Fans appreciate comeback
Sharks clinch playoff spot with 3-2 win over Stars
4/23/13 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks, like most NHL teams, don't have that great a record when trailing in the 3rd period. San Jose was 3-11-1 when trailing at the 2nd intermission mark entering Tuesday night's game. They upped that mark with a rousing 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Dallas Stars at HP Pavilion, and by doing so, clinched a playoff spot for the 9th consecutive year. Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture scored 3rd goals 30 seconds apart to propel San Jose to their 25th win of the season.

The win also came against the Stars, a division foe that now sites 3 points outside of a playoff spot with two games to play. The Stars also have the Detroit sitting a spot ahead of them with three games left of the Red Wings schedule. Had the Stars held on to their 2-1 lead against the Sharks, Dallas would have been in the 9th spot, a point behind the Blue Jackets.

The Sharks only have to play out their two remaining home games to see how they will be seeded in the upcoming playoffs. San Jose sits in the 5th seed, with the same number of points as the Los Angeles Kings, but the defending Stanley Cup Champions hold the tie breaker. The Kings play Detroit on Wednesday night in a nationally televised game, before closing out their regular season against San Jose on Saturday. Los Angeles lost to Minnesota on Tuesday evening.

San Jose jumped out to a 1-0 lead midway through the opening period on Raffi Torres' 7th goal of the season after Cody Eakin was sent off for interference. Torres lifted a backhand chip shot past Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen from the doorstep after Scott Gomez sent a feed across the slot as the two players skated up ice. Gomez and Martin Havlat teamed up on a give-and-go along the left wing boards, before setting up Torres with the power play tally.

Dallas countered less than 2 minutes later, when Antoine Roussel punched home a shot from 8 feet out after Antti Niemi allowed an Eakin shot to rebound out in front of his net. Roussel was loitering out in front of the net and beat Scott Hannan to the rebound for his 8th goal of the season.

A lack of brain power got the Sharks into hot water at the end of the period. Hannan started a parade to the penalty box by elbowing Eakin as he skated toward a loose puck at 17:48. Brad Stuart followed that by pinching Erik Cole along the boards as Dallas tried dumping a puck into the Sharks zone to earn an interference penalty 40 seconds later to give the Stars a lengthy 5-on-3 man advantage.

Justin Braun missed on a short-handed goal as the Sharks tried killing the penalties, intercepting a pass at the blueline and racing up ice to challenge Lehtonen. The Stars goaltender stayed low to deny Braun. San Jose killed off Hannan's penalty, but Marc-Edouard Vlasic took an inexplicable slashing penalty as the period expired, breaking Jamie Benn's stick in half with a two-handed chop.

The Stars used the intermission to strategize how to take advantage of their newly extended two man advantage, then came out firing. Loui Eriksson converted just 17 seconds into the 2nd period after slipping past the Sharks three skaters and sliding a puck between Niemi's pads for this 2-1 lead.

Lehtonen buckled down and appeared ready to steal the win by denying the Sharks in the middle frame. The netminder stopped all 11 shots he faced in the period, then another 10 to start the final frame.

Pavelski finally solved theLehtonen puzzle with 5:37 to play. Stuart fired a shot from the right point as Palveksi battled with a Stars defender out in front of the Dallas goal. Pavelski got a stick on Stuart's shot, redirecting home for his 16th goal of the season.

Sensing an opportunity, San Jose turned up the heat and immediately reapplied pressure on Lehtonen. Patrick Marleau pumped a shot on Lehtonen from the right side that the backstop defended but couldn't control. Couture was floating around the left circle when the puck kicked off Lehtonen, right to him. The Sharks sniper had a wide open net to shoot at and he didn't miss.

The sellout crowd erupted, having waited most of the evening for that big moment. The Stars had to pull Lehtonen in an attempt to draw even, but the Sharks were able to chip the puck out several times and kill the remaining time to lock up the win.

Game Notes:

The Sharks announced their post season awards before the game. Antti Niemi was named team MVP and winner of the team's 3-Star Award. Matt Irwin took home team rookie of the year honors. Patrick Marleau was named fan favorite for the third consecutive year. The Bay Area chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association selected James Sheppard as San Jose's nominee for the Masterton Trophy.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
DAL 1 1 0 2
SJ 1 0 2 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Torres 7 (Gomes, Havlat), 12:53, (pp). 2, DAL, Roussel 8 (Eakin, Garbutt), 14:32.
2nd period - 3, DAL, Eriksson 12 (Goligoski, Whitney), 0:17, (pp).
3rd period - 4, SJ, Pavelski 16 (Stuart, Thornton), 14:23. 5, SJ, Couture 20 (Marleau, Braun), 14:53.
Penalties
1st period - Bench, DAL (too many men), 6:00; Eakin, DAL (interference), 11:58; Hannan, SJ (elbowing), 17:48; Stuart, SJ (interference), 18:28; Vlasic, SJ (slashing), 20:00.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - Bench, DAL (too many men), 20:00.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
DAL - Lehoton 37 34
SJ - Niemi 26 24
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
DAL 11 4 11 26
SJ 13 11 13 37
Power Play Conversion
DAL 1 of 3
SJ 1 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Logan Couture
Joe Pavelski
Dan Boyle
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: St Pierre, Watson. Linesmen: Cvik, Mach.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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