DALLAS – Mattias Norstrom was the most unlikely scorer on the ice for the Dallas Stars. Still, he took a whack at the puck.
And it went in the net. Norstrom’s goal 4:37 into overtime Tuesday night gave the Stars a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks and a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinal series. “I tried to get it on net, it went off a stick. Fortunately, it went in,” said Norstrom, sounding as shocked as anyone about his game-winner.
“He would have been real deep in my depth chart,” captain Brenden Morrow said with a smile.
Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov had already made several impressive saves in overtime, but there were too many bodies around him and he never saw Norstrom’s shot from the top of the left circle after a pass from Mike Ribeiro. The puck slipped through the traffic, clipping Jeremy Roenick’s stick along the way.
It was only the second goal in 47 career playoff games for Norstrom, a 14-season defenceman who has scored only 18 regular-season goals for three NHL teams.
“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.”
Sharks captain Patrick Marleau put his team up 1-0 when he scored an unassisted short-handed goal with 35 seconds left in the first period. But he had already been denied a power-play goal because of an inadvertent whistle.
Only four minutes into the game, and already on a power play, Marleau jammed a loose puck past Marty Turco. But referee Don VanMassenhoven quickly waved off the score, indicating that he had already blown a whistle.
The referee didn’t realize that the puck still hadn’t been controlled after Joe Thornton’s shot because the ref’s view from behind the net was obstructed by Turco, who was completely extended and on his side after making the initial stop.
“I was surprised the whistle was blown,” Marleau said.
“(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.”
The last time the Stars had a 3-0 series lead was in the first round of the 1999 playoffs, when they swept Edmonton and went on to win the Stanley Cup. This is their 16th post-season series since then.
Dallas can wrap up the series Wednesday night at home.
“There’s a lot of momentum right now,” Mike Modano said. “It’ll be a fun night, an elimination game.”
Nabokov stopped 27 shots, including Niklas Hagman’s penalty shot with 9:10 left in regulation when the goalie slid to his left to deny the backhander. Hagman got that opportunity after he was taken down by Christian Ehrhoff skating toward the net with the puck.
In overtime, Nabokov denied Loui Eriksson twice. The second shot by Eriksson came as he tried to knock in the rebound of Brad Richards’ shot that the goalie kicked away.
“There’s no quit in this room. All the games have been pretty close,” Nabokov said. “It’s been little bounces here and there. … We have to regroup and forget these games.”
San Jose had a 2-1 lead heading into the third period of Game 2 before the Stars scored four goals. In the series opener, Norstrom had the primary assist on Morrow’s game-winning overtime goal.
Sergei Zubov, whose turnover led to Marleau’s short-hander, made amends in the first minute of the third when he scored on a shot from the top of the right circle.
The Stars began the third period on a power play, and 35 seconds later had a two-man advantage when Ehrhoff was whistled for hooking Morrow. On the ensuing goal, Morrow was in front of Nabokov, providing a screen when Zubov took a pass from Ribeiro.
Zubov, the 15-season veteran and two-time Stanley Cup winner, played only his second game since mid-January after operations to place a screw in a bone in his right foot and to repair a sports hernia. He had the primary assist on Modano’s tiebreaking goal in Game 2.
But with the Stars on the power play after Thornton’s cross-checking penalty, Zubov blindly passed back to an unexpecting Jere Lehtinen. The puck was instead picked up at centre ice by Marleau, who drove and shot over Turco’s left shoulder.
“I thought for the first two periods we played a perfect road game,” Wilson said. “We had some good opportunities and snuffed theirs out. We took at bad penalty at the end of the second period and then we put a gun to our head with that 5-on-3 opportunity, and they converted.”
Notes: Dallas has outscored opponents 19-5 in the third period and overtime through nine playoff games. … The Stars announced during the game that C Steve Ott has signed a new $2.85 million, two-year contract through the 2009-10 season. … Sharks D Craig Rivet was knocked hard to the ice with 14 minutes left in the third period, when he had a head-to-head collision with teammate Brian Campbell, who was knocked into him after taking an open-ice check from Morrow. Rivet remained down for a couple of minutes, but went to the bench on his own and was soon back in the game. … The Sharks and Stars were forced to play back-to-back games because the American Airlines Center was already booked for a potential NBA playoff game that won’t even be played. The Dallas Mavericks were eliminated from their first-round series with a loss in New Orleans on Tuesday night.