Dallas Stars win battle for first in Pacific Division, down Sharks 3-2 in OT shootout

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

San Jose Sharks defenseman Derek Joslin scored first NHL goal

Dallas Stars goaltender Andrew Raycroft blocker save San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks Dallas Stars Joe Pavelski creates turnover

The San Jose Sharks had an opportunity to tie the Dallas Stars for first place in the Pacific division with a win in regulation on Monday night. Instead nemesis Mike Riberio registered a goal and an assist, and Brad Richards scored the decisive goal for a 3-2 OT shootout win at HP Pavilion. Derek Joslin scored his first career NHL goal in 47 games played, and Ryane Clowe continued his torrid scoring streak with an even strength goal in the second period for the Sharks.

The Dallas Stars have been a mild surprise this season despite many off-ice distractions. Financial problems have swirled around Tom Hicks, current owner of the Dallas Stars and former owner of Liverpool F.C and the Texas Rangers. Massive loan defaults by the Hicks Sports Group have forced the issue, and rumors of a sale have been bubbling under the surface for several months. The Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont reported that a pair of potential owners in Tom Gaglardi and Bill Gallacher walked away from a rumored $175 million purchase price. Forbes 2010-11 NHL valuations gave the franchise a $227 million figure, with caveats. The team payroll has dropped $10 million over the last two seasons, and attendance has plummeted from 95.4% (14th, 17,680/avg) to 77% (26th, 14,268/avg). Even flamboyant Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has remained at arms length during the process, despite the public spin.

On the ice the Stars have been putting the pieces together, a 6-game win streak helped them obtain the slimmest of margins for the Pacific division lead. As of Tuesday, 4 points seperate all five teams in the conference. The Dallas turnaround may have been sparked by a come-from-behind overtime victory over the Sharks at the American Airlines Center on November 19th. “That San Jose game was the biggest one of all because now we know we can come back from two down, I keep going back to that game, because that was a big story,” Stars right wing Adam Burish told Susan Slusser of Fanhouse.

The first period Monday night was described as slow and uneventful, but it was a solid tactical effort by both squads, more of a chess match between two determined teams. Instead of the wild 80-shot affair in November, the Sharks rolled lines trying to get the puck deep and work off the forecheck. Ryane Clowe drilled undersized defenseman Stephane Robidas, but physical play was not a factor early. Dallas was tight in the neutral zone, with a focus on not turning the puck over. It lead to long stretches of play without a whistle.

Playing a mistake free 60 minutes of hockey is not possible, and the Sharks were the first team to blink. Stars defenseman Nicklas Grossman stepped up to Benn Ferriero along the wall to keep the play in the zone. In a race to the puck behind the net, Mike Ribeiro angled off Marc-Edouard Vlasic. He put his back to the defenseman and found an onrushing Jamie Benn in the slot. Benn buried the one timer for his 7th goal of the season. Stars captain Brendan Morrow took a puck to the face later in the first, but he returned to the bench after going to the locker room for repairs.

After being outshot 11-8 in the first period, the Sharks started churning in the second period. San Jose captain Joe Thornton cut hard behind the net, opening up several feet between himself and Adam Burish. Thornton backhanded a pass out to defenseman Derek Joslin at the faceoff dot, and Joslin wristed home his first career NHL goal at 6:56. The shot beat Dallas Stars goaltender Andrew Raycroft short side, and an upset Raycroft pumped his arms in the air in frustration after the play. Both Raycroft and Joslin were in the lineup due to injuries to starting goaltender Kari Lehtonen and defenseman Douglas Murray.

The Sharks added their second goal of the night two minutes later, after Jason Demers carried the puck around the right side. He wristed a hard angle pass into the slot, and it was deflected high over Raycroft by Ryane Clowe. It was the rugged left wing’s 9th goal of the season, and his 9th point in the last 5 games. Earlier Monday Clowe was named the first star of the week by the NHL, along with Marc-Andre Fleury as second star, and Rick Nash as the third star.

Mike Ribeiro again came back to haunt the Sharks. After Joe Pavelski took a hooking call 17 minutes into the second, this time it was defenseman Stephane Robidas behind the net finding Ribeiro in the slot. The crafty centerman buried the shot with traffic in front of goaltender Antti Niemi. The Stars would finish 1-for-3 on the power play, San Jose could not convert their lone man advantage opportunity in the third period.

It became a goaltenders duel in the third period, but Andrew Raycroft came up big repeatedly as the Sharks outshot Dallas 13-7. In overtime, Torrey Mitchell had a quality wraparound opportunity but the puck sailed through the crease and out. The game would be decided by an overtime shootout, and controversy would ensue on the first shootout attempt by Logan Couture.

Couture came in on Raycroft with speed, and pulled a hard forehand deke before putting a backhand 5-hole. The shot deflected off the leg pads of Raycroft and pinballed, but the Stars backup goaltender closed his legs on top of the puck as momentum carried him back into the crease. The play went to video review but the referees could not gain sight of the puck over the goal line so it was waived off. On the next shot, Jamie Benn converted a wrist shot on Antti Niemi from 22 feet out. After Pavelski scored on a straight wrist shot, Brad Richards answered with a snap shot of his own. When Ryane Clowe was stoned by Raycroft, the game was over.

“It was a good divisional game,” San Jose captain Joe Thornton told reporters in the post-game media scrum. “There was a lot of passion in that game. It was a real solid game. You’d like those types of games to continue and just play forever. It was just too bad we lost in a shootout.”

San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan agreed with Thornton’s assessment. “I’d like to have the first 10-12 minutes back again,” McLellan said. “I think it was pretty evident we didn’t have a lot of jump or fight in us early. But we found it, and once we did, we were very competitive against a very competitive hockey club. It was a well-played game by both teams.”

A photo gallery from the game is available here.

[Update] Damage to Dallas Stars Fanbase More Serious Than We Thought – Defending Big D.

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