SAN JOSE, Calif.--Goalie Alex Stalock stopped 44 shots in regulation time and overtime, and stopped all five shots he faced in the shootout to help lead the San Jose Sharks past the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Saturday night.
Joe Thornton scored in the fifth round of the shootout after Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle all came up empty.
Stalock made saves on Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, Jamie Benn, Erik Cole and Ray Whitney as the Sharks won for just the third time in their past nine games.
Sharks coach Todd McLellan had to get creative with his forward lines in an effort to fill the void left by the injured Tomas Hertl.
With Hertl out for at least a month and possibly longer with a knee injury, McLellan grouped his top three scorers--Marleau, Joe Pavelski, and Thornton--on one line. The three had a combined 102 points entering Saturday, and had provided the bulk of the team's offense among forwards since its Dec. 10 loss to the New York Islanders.
McLellan also had Couture on a line with Brent Burns and Marty Havlat.
"Where we're at right with our game, right now, we're not playing at a high enough level to win consistently, and that's shown in the wins and losses that we've accumulated over the past couple weeks," McLellan said Saturday morning. "So the level of play for everybody has to go up, then after that, we have to find combinations that we think will work."
Thornton, Marleau and Pavelski were able to apply pressure at times, and accounted for the Sharks' second goal. Trailing 2-1, Thornton reached to keep the puck in the Stars' end and found Pavelski along the boards. Pavelski did the rest, skating to the middle of the ice and beating Kari Lehtonen with a backhander that tied the score with 15:36 left in the third.
The Sharks may have been fortunate to be trailing just 2-1 entering the third, as Dallas outshot San Jose 31-22 through 40 minutes.
Stalock made his first career start at home Saturday, but couldn't stop the third shot directed his way. After the Sharks failed to clear the zone, the puck found its way to Whitney, whose backhand shot went through Brad Stuart's legs and over Stalock's left shoulder for a 1-0 Stars lead with 15:12 left in the first period.
The Stars made it 2-0 early in the second period. After gaining the Sharks' zone with not much defensive resistance, Dallas' Alex Goligoski fed the puck in front of the San Jose and it deflected off Antoine Roussel and past Stalock.
The goal seemed to wake up the Sharks, who finally solved Lehtonen early in the second period as Jason Demers' scored his first of the season off a pass from Tyler Kennedy.
Entering the game, Stalock had a 3-1 record in six games this season with a 2.06 goals against average and a .930 save percentage. Stalock's last start came Dec. 6 in a 4-3 loss at Carolina, as Antti Niemi has been in the San Jose net for the last six games.
Both teams went 0 for 2 on the power play in the first period. The Sharks entered Saturday 0 for 9 with the man advantage in the past three games.
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