Posted on April 30, 2008 08:54 AM | Permalink
DALLAS - The Dallas Stars have come within one game of reaching the Conference Finals for the first time since 2000, defeating San Jose 2-1 in overtime Tuesday to take a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal.
The two teams meet again tonight in rare back-to-back playoff games.
"We’re finding ways to win hockey games right now," said Stars captain Brenden Morrow, who set screens on both goals, including a Mattias Norstrom wrister at the 4:37 mark of overtime.
"We just seem to need one spark, whether it’s a power play or a turnover, whatever it happens to be, we’ve gained some steam off that and get things rolling. We’re playing our best hockey right now in months."
Dallas took advantage of a couple of key breaks in Game 3. The last was Norstrom’s shot, which deflected off of a sliding Jeremy Roenick and past the entangled bodies of Morrow and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
"He just got it over me and it hit my stick," Roenick said. "It was another bad break. It's amazing how we can't get a bounce in this series."
The Sharks earlier in the game missed out on a potential goal when an official blew his whistle just a moment before Patrick Marleau poked in a loose puck.
"[The referee] can't see the puck because he's standing behind the net," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "The puck's laying in the crease, he put it in. It should be a goal. He made a mistake, there's nothing I can do about it."
But while the Sharks are cursing bad luck, the Stars say they are making their good luck.
When asked if he was surprised his team was up 3-0 in the series, Stars coch Dave Tippett responded: "Surprised? No, I’m glad we’re up 3-0, but I feel we’re playing well. I don’t think we’ve won games that we haven’t deserved to win."
Only two teams have come back from 3-0 deficits in NHL history - the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942 and the New York Islanders in 1975. There were 33 years between those two series. And there are 33 years between 1975 and today.
Scary stat II
The Sharks were 35-1-2 during the regular season when leading after two periods. They have lost one-goal leads in the first minute of the third period of each of the last two playoff games, and have gone on to lose each game.
Mattias Norstrom had two points - both assists - in his previous 38 playoff games. He has two goals and three assists in these playoffs, including an assist on an overtime game-winning goal against the Sharks in Game 1 and the overtime game-winning goal in Game 3.
"It’s fun when it happens, but it wasn’t pretty," Norstrom said. "It was just like: 'Get it on net as fast as you can.'"
The Stars forced an icing and then took advantage when San Jose called a timeout to rest its players on the ice. Norstrom said it knew it had to attack hard on the ensuing shift.
"They had that group of five that was stuck out there, and they took the timeout, but I thought we did a good job the whole shift of keeping the puck in their end," Nortstrom said of the dangerous line of Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro and Jere Lehtinen.
"With Brenden and Ribs and Jere, they really hemmed them in. That’s tough on you. I’ve been on the other end of that, and it really does wear you down."
Morrow quipped after the rare game-winner for Norstrom: "He would have been real deep on my depth chart in my playoff pool."
Zubov plays…and plays
Stars defenceman Sergei Zubov had a procedure in Germany April 3 done by Dr. Ulrike Muschaweck to repair a nagging sports hernia injury, and then returned to the lineup in less than four weeks to play in Game 2 Sunday.
On Tuesday, he led the Stars in time on ice at 25:42.
Stars coach Dave Tippett said he would have to wait to see how that will affect Zubov Wednesday when the Stars play Game 4 at American Airlines Center.
"That was just how the game went," Tippett said of the minutes. "We have to see where he’s at (Wednesday), but when he wants more, you better give him more."
Ott signs extension
Steve Ott, who had career bests with 11 goals and 25 points, signed a two-year extension for the Stars. Ott, 25, made $787,500 US last season and could have become a restricted free agent in the summer. He will make $1.35 million next season and $1.5 million in 2009-10.
San Jose coach Ron Wilson inserted defenceman Alexei Semenov in for Matt Carle and forward Tomas Plihal for Patrick Rismiller. The Sharks have made more use of their roster depth in the series and could look to get fresh legs in for Game 4.