When Tyler Kennedy set a new Dallas Stars franchise record for fastest goal against at just nine seconds into the first period it appeared emblematic of what most expected coming into this one: All Sharks, all the time.
It was not a portent of things to come, however, as the Stars followed their solid outing in Colorado with another in front of the home fans and this time took a 4-3 shootout victory with them on their way out to California tomorrow.
Dallas lost the shot battle 35-31 and the overall shot attempts 72-65 but dominated large stretches of play in both the second and third periods, and after a rocky start Dan Ellis settled down and held them in it through the late stages of the third and a penalty kill in overtime.
Alex Chiasson rewarded Lindy Ruff's choice in the shootout with the game winner as Ellis stopped all three shots he faced.
The win evens the Stars' record at 3-3-0, and most satisfactorily, hands the Sharks their first loss of the season after a perfect 6-0-0 start. The (were) perfect Avalanche also fell to the Red Wings tonight, if you're keeping track.
It's a big win for the Stars, as the Sharks represented the best or the second best in nearly everything entering this one. A big confidence boost for a group headed back out on the road to face the LA Kings and Anaheim Ducks this weekend.
In a show we've seen before, the Stars gave up a goal on the opening shift and the opening shot, putting themselves in position to chase once again, though they settled things down quite nicely when things got rolling
Then something odd happened. Lindy Ruff chose to send his fourth line out against the Joe Thornton line following a television timeout and he was rewarded for that bit of inexplicability when the Tyler Seguin line hopped on toward the end of the Sharks' shift and scored a goal.
Was it designed that way, or did it just work out nicely?
It didn't matter because someone on the Sharks' fourth line, still trying to find his name, scored 1:08 later to give San Jose their lead back.
A 2-2 tie saw the majority of the period played in a spirited back-and-forth manner with close calls on both sides as the Stars out-shot them 10-7 in the frame.
San Jose jumped back in front on a Patrick Marleau wrap-around after Trevor Daley, again in the middle of it, collided with Dan Ellis in the crease, not allowing the Stars' backup to get back into position.
Dallas would answer less than a minute later on yet another rebound given up by Antti Niemi and another loose puck left in the slot by his defense. This time it was Cody Eakin putting in an Alex Chiasson rebound to knot things at three.
The period of Daley continued when he was boarded in the offensive zone on a penalty kill (what?), but would return to third period action.
Dallas opened the period on a power play that did everything but score after Tyler Seguin hit the cross-bar and Alex Chiasson and Jamie Benn each had near misses on good opportunities.
The Stars controlled play through the first 10 minutes, out-shooting the Sharks 8-3 and doing everything but score again, but a Brenden Dillon cross-checking penalty at 9:41 began a momentum swing after another scrambling shift and multiple failed clearing attempts- A continued problem.
Jamie Benn had the game on his stick repeatedly as time wore down, but always a hair off. The Stars survived some tense moments as the Sharks poured the shots on late, then played an even back-and-forth overtime period until Sergei Gonchar was whistled for cross-checking in the offensive zone.
San Jose finally passed the Stars in the shot column on that 1:02 power-play, but not on the score sheet.
And a fine, fine hockey game was decided by a shootout. Which is a damned shame.
Dallas - Jamie Benn: Miss, on a slow meandering move that... was...
San Jose - Pavelski: Miss. Nice save by Ellis after he failed at the poke check
Dallas - Seguin: High. Couldn't hit the net. Niemi gets a freebee.
San Jose - Couture: Couldn't hit the net either.
Dallas - Chiasson: He's made of unicorns and rainbows. Score.
San Jose - Brent Burns: Stopped by Ellis five hole.
-This one could have easily been another loss in the "moral victory" category, a la the game in Colorado. And I would have written it that way. After 40 minutes I had written down that this was a great game no matter what happened. They can hang a little bit. The trick is doing it over and over and over again.
-Dan Ellis - I've heard both sides of the coin tonight, in the press box and out there on the internet. He did what he could. They need more moving forward. The truth is perhaps a bit unfair to him, but right now this team playing the way it is really does need a little more to be successful. That extra level is working on his [groin/lower body injury] off the ice, though.
-Six points in six games for Alex Chiasson. Is that good? It's pretty good. He even got his plus/minus rating back up to even. So there's that. And a shootout winner. And a budding man crush from many in this building.
-Nichushkin was back in. He was better tonight. More noticeable. Had a couple of chances, even, though maybe not the best ones. He got a look, a single look with Benn and Seguin. So you know Ruff is pondering what you're pondering.
-Sergei Gonchar was having his first pretty good game until he took a pretty awful penalty (that was probably embellished) in the offensive zone in the overtime period. You can't be doing that.
-Hybrid Icing - I'm going to comment on it every night until it becomes slightly less VERY WHEELS OFF and inconsistently applied. The one in the third period that was very much a winnable race for both players nearly cost the Stars at the other end. That's awful.
-I've never seen "hug cam" before... but... Well, it failed.
-Tyler Seguin is an interesting case. He scores again. He leads the team in scoring. And yet you feel like maybe he can do more, so it's not "amazing" yet. Maybe we want too much?