Rookie James Neal scored two goals, Mike Modano had a goal and an assist, and the Dallas Stars improbably snapped a five-game losing streak in the NHL's toughest road arena, beating the San Jose Sharks 4-1 Tuesday night.
Brian Sutherby also had a goal and an assist for the Stars, who
handed the Sharks their worst home loss of the season just when
Dallas' hopes for a playoff run appeared to be fading. Marty Turco
made 24 saves after losing the clubs' first four meetings of the
year, and Dallas' defense largely shut down the NHL-leading Sharks'
Joe Thornton scored the only goal for the suddenly struggling
Sharks, who have lost three of four since winning 1-0 at Dallas
eight days earlier. Backup goalie Brian Boucher made 27 saves in
his third straight start in place of Evgeni Nabokov, who apparently
has the flu.
The Stars' season certainly seemed to be in trouble when they
finished a six-game homestand with five consecutive losses before
heading out on this three-game California road trip. Instead,
Dallas prevailed with aggressive, physical defense in front of
Turco, who backstopped the Stars' six-game victory over San Jose in
the second round of the playoffs last spring.
The loss - just the Sharks' second multiple-goal home defeat of
the entire season - dropped San Jose to 26-3-3 at the Shark Tank.
The Sharks also lost big before the game when they acknowledged
they'll be without two key veteran forwards for perhaps the rest of
the season. Mike Grier and Jeremy Roenick both could be sidelined
until the playoffs with injuries.
Grier, a penalty-killing specialist, has a knee injury, while
Roenick is back on the shelf with a shoulder injury after missing
28 games earlier in the season with another shoulder problem.
San Jose then lost Joe Pavelski to a game misconduct in the
final seconds of the first period when a major scrum erupted near
the Dallas net. Pavelski was wrapped up with defenseman Darryl
Sydor, but it wasn't immediately clear what the normally
mild-mannered center had done to earn a misconduct.
The penalties eventually led to a two-minute two-man advantage
for the Stars, who used 117 seconds of it before Modano put Dallas
ahead 2-1 on a one-timer from Mike Ribeiro.
Sutherby padded the Stars' lead with a fluke goal early in the
third period when the puck deflected off a defensive player and
landed next to Sutherby as he came out from behind the net. The
goal was Sutherby's first since Feb. 14.
Neal scored 83 seconds later on a sharp setup from Modano, who
has 70 points in 76 career games against San Jose.
Boucher began the season 10-1-2 before losing his last two
Dallas got C Steve Ott back from a one-game suspension for
attempting to injure Anaheim's Travis Moen with an eye-gouge during
a fight last week.
LW Claude Lemieux was an apparently healthy scratch. The 43-year-old has one assist in 16 games with San Jose.
San Jose recalled LW Lukas Kaspar and RW Brad Staubitz from the
minors to fill its injury gaps. Staubitz fought Dallas enforcer Krys Barch in the first period.