Stargazing: Stars Win again in San Jose, 3-2 in Shootout

Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars  and Texas Stars news, and whatever other random ramblings are bouncing around inside our heads.

The Dallas Stars may have finally found a cure for their shootout woes. All they need to do is trail San Jose, in San Jose in the third period, get the game tied, and then send a defenseman out there to score the game winner in the skills competition. So they've done twice now, with Robidas and Niskanen earning the extra point in both trips to the Shark Tank.

That formula may need some work if they're to continue improving their shootout record on a regular basis, but another piece of the Stars game last night might translate a little better from day-to-day: Take 44 shots on goal. Dallas failed in Anaheim to sustain offensive pressure through three periods, or even for two. In San Jose, they took 14, 16, and 13 shots on goal respectively in each period, making Nabokov work all night long. 44 might be a lofty goal, but the mid thirties night in and night out will net positive results over time.

The power play connected once last night, but I thought it could have been better, particularly on the 5 on 3. Other opportunities presented themselves in big moments and they couldn't take advantage, but answered with a perfect penalty kill against a very dangerous Shark power play that features Thornton and Heatley.

If the Stars can't find a way to score more than two goals in regulation, that is how good Marty Turco needs to be for this team to make the playoffs, and he was very good last night. That Blake goal was a little disheartening, but like Razor said, it was on end and squeezed through him "like a wet bar of soap." Marty stood tall in the third, overtime and the shootout.

With the two points, the Stars held on to their eight place seeding in the West.

Follow the jump for plenty of quotes and analysis from another big win at HP Pavilion...

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Mike Heika recaps the action after a very late night in San Jose...

The Stars are still learning about themselves 31 games into the season, and Friday was a great lesson for a lot of players.

Dallas was coming off two games in which it had blown leads, and players were doing some soul-searching for two days before Friday's game with the San Jose Sharks.

On one side, players like Steve Ott, Brenden Morrow and Stephane Robidas answered with aggressive physical games. On another side, players like Mike Ribeiro, Trevor Daley and Brad Richards answered with aggressive offensive games. And goalie Marty Turco answered with calm and poise.

The result was a 3-2 shootout win against the best team in the Pacific Division, and a bit of a statement for a team that was pondering its identity.

As I said last night, I think the fan base really enjoys wins over the Sharks, and for good reason, but a regulation win over the Kings tonight would mean so much more in the long run of this season.

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You might be amused to see the Shark fan saying the same kinds of things that we've been saying recently...

In the Sharks last seven games, they've been to the shootout three times. Now, we can bitch and moan about the shootout as much as we want, but fact of the matter is that it's a part of the game. No if's and's or but's about it. It's unavoidable.

What should be avoidable, though, is going to the shootout. The fact that the Sharks have led late in the third period in both of the shootout losses is troubling. Aside from the miraculous comeback in Edmonton, the Sharks have shat the bed twice and had to settle the score in the crapshoot. Blech. (I can also bitch because I was at the Tank live earlier this year to watch the Sharks do practically the same thing against the Stars. Deja vu... terrible feeling, terrible TV show, terrible movie.)

Two poor games does not a season make, but I haven't been happy with what I've seen the last week or so. The Sharks need to realize that it's up to them to force the opposition to play their game for 60 minutes. They played well in the first 20 last night, and then let the Stars dictate the game. From here on out, it should be an end to end battle.

But let's be realistic here. The Shark fan has nothing to worry about. Honestly, the grumblings coming from a minor hiccup in their season make me roll my eyes just a tiny bit, because quite obviously, the Sharks are a very good team, and they'll be fine.

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The Mercury news brings you some amusing quotes from the Sharks coach on the shootout...

For 10 rounds, the Sharks and Dallas Stars sent skaters out in a one-on-one skill test, and for 10 rounds, only one shooter on each team could put the puck past San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov or Dallas goalie Marty Turco.

"You start looking around," Sharks captain Rob Blake said. "Who's next? 11? It's getting down there."

"It's a little bit typical of the night," said McLellan, who is on record as a foe of the shootout when it comes to deciding games. "I think Marty Turco poke-checked guys four or five times in a row, and yet we get the puck in close. If you're on the bench watching, you should figure it out eventually."

Similarly, and I'm no hockey player, I was wondering when the Sharks would stop trying to beat Nabokov low over and over again. Matt Niskanen answered the call.

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NHL.com brings you Matt Niskanen:

Niskanen, a defenseman who had never taken a shootout attempt, scored in the 11th round to give the Dallas Stars a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks.

Niskanen ripped a wrist shot past Evgeni Nabokov after he and Dallas' Marty Turco had stopped nine of the first 10 shots in the shootout. Turco then gave Dallas the extra point by stopping Marc-Edouard Vlasic's wrist shot.

''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 defensemen, we always joke around that we'll be the last used in a shootout.''

Interesting that you have to have 10 shooters just to get to Jamie Benn on Marc Crawfords' bench...

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Quotes:

Marc Crawford:

''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.''

``This is a great building with a lot of energy, and I think that helps you,'' said Stars coach Marc Crawford. ``It brings energy to your game.''

``I liked the way we played today,'' Crawford said. ``We played a strong game and we stuck with it. We talked about that before the game. We played 60 minutes, and that's a huge step in the right direction. But I think we're capable of being even better than that. There's another level that we can get to, and we need to keep striving to make those improvements.''

Marty Turco:

``It was a good win for us, and an answer game, I guess you could say,'' said Turco, who had 33 saves in regulation and stopped 10 of 11 shooters in the shootout. ``I just think we all did whatever we could to be better. That was the thinking.''

``You have to be able to forget and move forward,'' Turco said. ``If you have a bad goal, you just have to let it go behind you. I think was I able to do that, and it's important for me to continue to do that.''

``They're all huge,'' said Turco, who might get the game off while Alex Auld plays. ``This was big, but now we have to keep playing winning hockey and go to Los Angeles and try to win there. We need to do this for more than just one game. That would be a big step in the right direction.''

Niskanen:

``As defensemen, we always joke, `Hey, we're next,' when it goes five or six ,'' Niskanen said. ``I just saw he was coming out and being aggressive, so I wanted to shoot quickly and pick a spot.''

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More from Mike Heika in San Jose on Marty Turco recently:

There was much debate the last few days about Marty Turco. Did the soft goal he let in Tuesday that allowed Anaheim to tie the score with 1:02 remaining in regulation deserve extreme criticism, or had Turco done so much before that shot that he deserved a break?

Bottom line, when a goalie lets in a goal that he shouldn't have, the entire team slumps its shoulders. One great save doesn't lift a team that way. Three don't. Five don't. It might take 10 or 20 great saves to really get a team fired up and going.

But all you have to do is let one puck slip between your pads late in a period, as Turco did Friday against the San Jose Sharks, and it can change an entire game.

Timing is everything with goalies. They control a lot of the arena's energy and the game's pace.

It's a lesson Turco has learned throughout his career and one he will be studying even more intensely now.

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Dallas was also happy to get Karlis Skrastins back in the lineup last night:

"He's an important part of our team, and we're happy to get him back," Stars coach Marc Crawford said, alluding to his defenseman's expected return tonight against the San Jose Sharks. "Karlis has this great ability to get in the middle of the other team and mess up what they are trying to do, and that's a great talent to have on defense."

Skrastins, who signed with the Stars in the summer as a free agent, said his ability to get in the way is part experience and part luck. He said during the course of 707 career games, he's learned how to anticipate the play.

"I think some of it is being able to read the play and just being in position, and some of it is that I just get in the way," he said. "I don't try to block shots all of the time. I just try to read the play. But a lot of times, I end up there and have a chance to block the puck very easily. It's just reacting to the puck being there."

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The Stars continue their road trip in Los Angeles tonight at 9:30pm CST, on FSN+ (Verizon customers like me, you're out of luck there)

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