SAN JOSE, Calif. – Matt Niskanen made the most of the first shootout attempt in his three-year NHL career.
Niskanen scored in the 11th round of the shootout to help end a goaltending duel between Marty Turco and Evgeni Nabokov and give the Dallas Stars a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Friday night.
Nabokov stopped nine of the first 10 attempts for the Sharks and Turco did the same for the Stars with both goalies making sprawling saves and nifty poke checks to help match the longest shootout in the league this season and the longest ever for both franchises.
“We were starting to run out of guys,” Niskanen said. “We were starting to look down at the end of the bench. (Nabokov) was coming out pretty far and so I put a move on him and got very lucky. It the first time I’ve ever done it. I came at him with a lot of speed and snapped it. As defencemen, we always joke around that we’ll be the last used in a shootout.”
Niskanen nearly ended the game in overtime with a blast from the point that trickled past Nabokov before Dan Boyle swept it away as it approached the goal line. The Sharks also had their chance in overtime but Joe Pavelski’s shot hit the post.
That’s when it went to the shootout and the goalies took over. Nabokov stopped Loui Eriksson to open it and Turco did the same to Pavelski. Brad Richards then beat Nabokov in the second round before Turco turned aside Ryane Clowe.
Dallas had a chance to win it but Mike Ribeiro was stopped by Nabokov. After Devin Setoguchi tied it with a wrist shot, the teams combined to miss the next 14 attempts. Turco saved seven shots that could have ended the game before finishing it off himself by stopping Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Turco also made 33 saves before the shootout.
“That shootout was pretty special, it was the longest one I’ve ever been involved in,” Dallas coach Marc Crawford said. “It’s not very often that the shootout ends up being the story of the game. … Marty did such a good job in the shootout and you have to praise Nabokov because he was equally as good. But we found a way to solve him with a great shot from Niskanen.”
The Sharks had never had a shootout go longer than seven attempts and Dallas’ previous long was nine in 2007 against Minnesota.
“It’s a little bit typical of the night,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “I think Marty Turco poke-checked checked guys four or five times in a row and yet we get in close to him. If you’re on the bench and watching him you should figure it out eventually. It’s disappointing.”
Nabokov’s 42 saves were his most in a game in six years. He also saved 42 shots in a 2-2 tie against Edmonton on Dec. 11, 2003. But it wasn’t enough to prevent the Sharks from losing their fourth straight, all on home ice.
The skid is the longest at home for the Sharks since losing five in a row in 2007-08. The only solace for San Jose is three of the games went to overtime, giving them five points on a five-game homestand.
Rob Blake scored his second goal of the season the day after his 40th birthday and Dany Heatley tied Patrick Marleau for the team lead with his 20th goal for San Jose.
Dallas got on the board first in regulation when Trevor Daley kept the puck in the offensive zone after a poor clearing attempt by Jamie McGinn and Jed Ortmeyer. Daley then gave a perfect feed to Ribeiro at the side of the net for a tip-in power-play goal.
The Sharks answered with two goals in less than two minutes to take the lead. Neither team scored again until Richards tied it midway through the third period.
“I don’t think we played very well,” Blake said. “That’s what happens when you let a team hang in there. We had the lead, but we weren’t playing well.”
NOTES: The Sharks failed to convert on their two power plays and are 2-for-28 with the man advantage over their last seven games. … D Jay Leach, claimed off waivers from Montreal on Dec. 1, made his San Jose debut after in place of the injured Douglas Murray. Murray was hurt after colliding with teammate Dany Heatley on Wednesday and is expected to return to the lineup Saturday in Phoenix. … Stars D Karlis Skrastins returned to the lineup after missing two games with a lacerated finger.