SAN JOSE, Calif. – Brad Winchester took advantage of his first chance to play with Joe Thornton, one of the NHL’s best playmakers.
Ryane Clowe, Winchester and Torrey Mitchell scored in a six-minute span of the second period to rally the San Jose Sharks past the Dallas Stars 5-2 on Thursday night.
“There’s not too much of an adjustment,” Winchester said. “Obviously, they are very good with the puck, especially ‘Jumbo.’ You know he’s going to make plays.”
Logan Couture and Jamie McGinn also scored for the Sharks, who had lost four of five.
For an offence that had been struggling recently, the performance of the top line was a welcome relief. The Sharks averaged 1.83 goals over their previous six games before breaking out against the Stars, whom they have outscored 9-3 in two meetings this season.
“Sometimes when you move the lines around everybody gets a bit of a wake-up call and people get mad,” San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. “Those people who got mad had good nights.”
Mike Ribeiro and Brandon Morrow had goals for Dallas, which opened a season-high, five-game, 10-day trip with its second straight loss.
Antii Niemi made 18 saves for his second win over the Stars this season and sixth in 10 games overall.
“I just tried to be around the net as much as possible and create room,” Winchester said. “We were able to establish a good momentum right away, and that kind of carried us.”
Andrew Raycroft fell to 1-7 against the Sharks after allowing five goals on 24 shots through two periods. Rookie Richard Bachman replaced Raycroft in the third period, and made 12 saves in his second NHL appearance.
“It’s never easy to go into any game cold,” Bachman said. “But I had the intermission to get stretched out.”
The teams combined for 34 penalty minutes, a handful of scrums, and one misconduct. That was a big change from the 100 penalty minutes, four misconducts and three fights the last time they met on Nov. 19.
The Sharks, who have a four-game winning streak over the Stars, scored twice in the first 1:22—just 15 seconds apart. Clowe created an odd-man rush and brought the puck up along the left wing boards. He fed a pass in the middle to Couture, who wristed a shot past Raycroft.
McGinn scored moments later from the side after getting to a rebound.
Ribeiro redirected a shot by Morrow off his chest and into the net to cut the lead in half.
“I thought we played pretty good,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. “I think we lost some lustre. I wish we could have mustered a little more in the third.”
The Stars tied it early in the second period when Morrow, playing for the first time in seven games, scored a power-play goal. He one-timed a nice crossing pass from Ribeiro.
“It felt good to be part of it again, though a loss still feels the same,” Morrow said. “The third, fourth and fifth goals were tough to overcome. The ice titled the other way a little bit, and they got a couple of quick ones.”
Clowe scored with 8:07 left in the second, with an assist from Thornton. Less than two minutes later, Winchester redirected in Thornton’s shot and earned praise from his coach.
“He was good all over the boards and got to the net,” McLellan said. “I like him there.”
Mitchell scored with just under three minutes to play in the period, knocking in the puck after it glanced off McGinn’s skate.
NOTES: The Sharks outshot Dallas 14-5 in the second period. … Stars D Mark Fistric began serving a three-game NHL suspension for charging New York Islanders RW Nino Niederreiter. … The Stars were 2-of-30 on power plays before Morrow’s goal. … The Sharks scored five or more goals for the second time this season. … The Sharks scored twice in the first 47 seconds of a game in 1998. … Stars D Alex Goligoski returned after missing 11 games with a thumb injury. D Trevor Daley (back) came back after sitting out three games. … Thornton had two assists, giving him 713 to rank 47th on the NHL career list.