DALLAS – Mike Ribeiro ended his season-long goal drought in dramatic fashion.
Ribeiro scored at 2:52 of overtime after capping a two-goal comeback in the final 3 minutes of regulation in the Dallas Stars’ 5-4 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night. In the extra period, Ribeiro’s beat Antti Niemi with a backhander to give the Stars their fifth straight home win.
“I had my chances but I stayed positive,” said Ribeiro, who was plastered in the face with a post-game shaving cream pie by teammate Adam Burish after scoring for the first time this season. “It’s easy to get negative. Going through a drought 55 games into a season is one thing, but when it happens at the start, it’s magnified. So it feels good. I’ll probably go have a glass of wine.”
James Neal scored the second of his two goals on the night with 2:35 left in regulation, and Ribeiro tied it at 4 off a scramble in front of the net 29 seconds later.
Ribeiro had gone the first 16 games without a goal, the longest dry spell to begin a season in his 11-year career. Ribeiro thought he’d scored again with 18.4 seconds left in regulation, but the goal was disallowed because the net was off its moorings.
The Stars need more from Ribeiro, their second-line centre. Ribeiro has 14 assists, but he’s also counted on to put the puck in the net.
“I think when you start pressing, everything gets heavy,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said. “You carry the weight of the world around with you and Mike’s not a big guy, so it was pretty heavy. He made a great move on the tying goal. He had to go into a tough area. He had to have a real quick stick. He found it and got it right upstairs. For him to wait that long for a goal, he sure scored a great goal to break the slump.”
Rookie Logan Couture gave the Sharks a 3-2 lead in the second period less than three minutes after Joe Pavelski tied it as the Sharks rallied from an early two-goal deficit.
Brad Richards and Neal connected for the Stars in the game’s first eight minutes.
Scott Nichol and Patrick Marleau also scored for the Sharks, playing their third game in four nights. They were coming off a 4-3 overtime loss at Colorado on Wednesday night.
“We need to show more composure down the stretch,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said after his team’s third overtime loss in the last six games. “That’s two nights in a row. It’s disappointing.”
Kari Lehtonen made 36 saves for the Stars, who’ve backed their goalie with 22 goals in their last five home games.
Nichol fired into the upper right corner of the net from the right circle with 1:19 left in the first period to draw San Jose to 2-1. Pavelski tied it at 2-2 at 10:21 of the second period when Lehtonen was late covering the right side of the net on a stuff shot.
Couture scored on a wrist shot to make it 3-2 at 12:37 of the second period.
Richards got the Stars rolling early when he skated from behind the net and stuffed the puck past Niemi at 5:15 of the opening period.
Neal’s deflection dribbled through Niemi’s pads and into the net at 7:31 of the first period, 15 seconds into a Dallas power play.
The Sharks arrived in Dallas early Thursday morning, contributing to their lethargic start.
“We got in late,” McLellan said. “To fall behind like that is not what we planned, but we fought back.”
Marleau knocked a loose puck past Lehtonen at 6:27 of the third for a two-goal pad, but the Sharks couldn’t protect the advantage.
“We have to tighten things up late in the game,” Marleau said. “We have to play 60 minutes and if we don’t, things will go the other way quickly. For whatever reasons, we let up for three, four minutes and it’s in the back of our net. We play a great game for most of the game, it’s just not staying focused and finishing it out.”
NOTES: LW Brenden Morrow had the primary assists on Ribeiro’s goals. … Dallas has won all four overtime games this season. The Stars also won both of their shootout games. … D Douglas Murray (lower body) and D Niclas Wallin (overall body soreness) were out for the Sharks, … Marleau had a goal disallowed on a high stick at 7:51 of the third. A video review showed Marleau deflected the puck past Lehtonen with his stick near headlevel. … There were four fights in the season’s first meeting between the Pacific Division rivals, including a second-period scrap between Richards and San Jose’s Torrey Mitchell that resulted in 10-minute misconducts for each player.