Shark-bitten San Jose in big trouble
Home ice advantage proved to be no advantage at all for the San Jose Sharks.
Defenceman Sergei Zubov made a triumphant return and Brad Richards collected four third period points to lift the Dallas Stars to a 5-2 win over the hometown San Jose Sharks Sunday night.
Sitting on a 2-1 advantage headed into the third period, the defensively sloppy Sharks coughed up four goals in the final 20 minutes en route to losing their second straight game on home ice.
The Stars lead their Western Conference semifinal 2-0, with the best-of-seven series shifting to Dallas for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Zubov, who returned to the Dallas lineup after missing more than three months with a sports hernia, logged more than 16 minutes of ice time and made a highlight-reel pass to set up Mike Modano's winning goal early in the third period.
Zubov, 37, last played on Jan. 17 and underwent surgery in Germany earlier this month. He began practising with his teammates last week, but wasn't cleared to play until minutes before Game 2.
"We've had amazing third periods so far in the playoffs," said Modano, who has six goals in six games in San Jose this season. "It was a big trip for us. Now it's up to us to respond to this at home. We know this is far from over, but at the same time, we had a great two days here. Every shift, every night, we've looked hungry."
Richards demonstrated why the Stars acquired him in a trade deadline deal with Tampa Bay in February, scoring a goal and adding three assists in the third period for Dallas, who have won four of five road games in the post-season.
"I've been fighting it a bit through the first five periods, and that's not a good feeling," said Richards. "I kept grinding away, trying to make things happen, and then sometimes you catch a break."
Stars winger Niklas Hagman scored a pair of goals after going goal-less in his previous 15 playoff games.
San Jose started brightly and Joe Pavelski opened the scoring midway through the first period with his fourth goal of the playoffs, tipping in a Craig Rivet slapshot on a Sharks power play midway past Turco.
Evgeni Nabokov looked shaky in net for San Jose in the opening period, and he let in a soft goal at the 15:37 mark when Mike Ribeiro banked his shot from behind the net off Nabokov's skate and into the net.
Torrey Mitchell nearly restored San Jose's lead early in the second period on a 2-on-1 break with Jeremy Roenick, only for Stars forward Stu Barnes to lift Mitchell's stick just as he was about to tuck the puck into the net.
Milan Michalek succeeded where Mitchell failed, beautifully deking Turco on a breakaway after being fed a defence-splitting pass from Brian Campbell with five minutes left in the period.
San Jose held the momentum for the rest of the second, but Dallas took the lead with a pair of goals early in the third period. Pavelski was trying to carry the puck out of his zone but lost his balance and fell to the ice, allowing Brad Richards to scoop up the loose puck and fire a quick shot by Nabokov after only 32 seconds.
Modano was called for a tripping penalty but scored on a Dallas power play at 3:39, a mere 17 seconds he stepped back on the ice after serving his two-minute minor. San Jose couldn't clear the zone and Zubov slipped a no-look, backhanded pass across the slot to Modano who fired a wrist shot into the net.
"You have to realize it's coming to you," said Modano, who's been playing with Zubov since 1996. "He made another great play."
San Jose was done after that. Hagman beat Nabokov on the short side from in close at 13:55 and scored into an empty net with 1:15 left in regulation.
"We started good, and we had a lead after the second (period)," Michalek said. "We let it slip away. We can't let it happen again. We have to go there and win two. We've been good on the road all season."
With files from Associated Press