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Stargazing: Nabokov, Sharks Steal One in Dallas, 4-2

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

Hockey is a funny game. Only in hockey can you play that much better than your opponent and lose. Sour grapes? Sure, but I do believe that's what happened.

The Dallas Stars played a great game last night, but their inability to score the puck couldn't overcome the very few mistakes they made, all of which ended up in the net behind them. Their biggest mistake of all in my eyes was special teams. The Stars didn't have to kill a penalty last night, and they had four pretty early power play chances.That's a situation that playoff teams take advantage of.

The game had a very familiar stink on it from my perspective, and as it turns out was very similar to another Sharks vs Stars matchup at the AAC from last season. That game too was all Nabokov all the time, with the Stars going 0-for on the power play. So it's not like this hasn't happened before. As Art mentioned last night, this is a pretty common occurrence when the Sharks come to town. It wasn't unexpected, but the manner of the losing (dominating your opponent) is particularly maddening to the fans.

Special teams aside, the play of the young players was at the forefront last night. Jamie Benn had what might have been his finest game yet (being the only plus player on the team) and Vishnevskiy and Fortunus, while certainly capable, at times looked like they could make coffee nervous.

However, If the Stars should manage to hang out around 8th place all season, and the Sharks in 1st, how do you feel about that match up?

Follow the jump for quotes and reaction to last night's game...


Mike Heika says the Stars are close...

You can see that the team is getting great scoring opportunities, is very close to making the right plays, and just isn't getting luck on its side. Then, everything falls into place, and that team takes off.

The Stars very much want to believe they are that team right now.

After all, if Steve Ott would have scored on the breakaway or not hit the post, maybe the Stars wouldn't have lost a 4-2 game to San Jose Monday. If Nicklas Grossman would have put in a first period goal instead of hitting the post, maybe that would have chipped away some of the Sharks' early confidence. If Ivan Vishnevksiy would have been able to control the puck and head up ice in the final minute instead of accidentally fumbling it into his own net, maybe Dallas could have forced overtime or a shootout (and actually won).

You can see how close they really were.

Just isn't getting luck on its side. That about sums it up for last night.


The Sharks got the wild idea to reunite the best line in hockey halfway through the game, and that may have been the difference:

After Benn ruined Nabokov's shutout bid 18 seconds into the third, Marleau restored the Sharks' two-goal lead at 2:43, when he took a pass from Heatley and ripped a shot from the top of the left circle past Turco for his second goal of the night and 23rd of the season. It was exactly the offense Sharks coach Todd McLellan was hoping for after reuniting the trio of Marleau, Heatley and Thornton.

''We wanted to shake some things up,'' McLellan said. ''Putting them back together was a natural.''

Ralph Strangis said after the game that it's hard to be mad at Marty for that second Marleau goal, because he's a "goal scorer" and those pucks find their way through when they're on a goal scorer's stick. I bet a lot of you found it pretty easy to be mad at him at the time.


The focus, rather incorrectly and unfortunately, of the fans walking down the stairs after the game last night was on Ivan Vishnevskiy...

Several veteran players skated over to Vishnevskiy to offer words of encouragement and defensive coach Charlie Huddy left him on the ice so he couldn't think about it sitting on the bench.

"It's just a bad bounce," defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "I hope he doesn't worry too much about that. It hapesn to everybody. It didn't cost us the game or anything like that. He's a good kid, a good player, he played well and we've just got to move forward."

Stars coach Marc Crawford wasn't worried about it, agreeing that it was just a tough bounce.


That's not why they lost that hockey game. It's just unfortunate YouTube fodder now For the local San Jose flavoring, you can check out the Mercury News:

For half the game, Evgeni Nabokov's goaltending was about the only thing the Sharks had going for them Monday night against the Dallas Stars.

So, late in the second period, coach Todd McLellan figured it was time to reunite his top three offensive players, and Dany Heatley once again found himself skating alongside Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

"We like playing together," Thornton said, "so it was, 'Oh great, we're back together? Let's try to score a goal.' And we did the next shift."

That goal was Marleau's first of two on the night as the Sharks went on to beat the Stars 4-2 and move back into first place in the Pacific Division. Joe Pavelski also scored for San Jose, and Ryane Clowe was credited with a freakish empty-netter that slid into the Dallas goal off rookie defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy's stick.

Can't argue with that first part.


Interesting note: The combined salaries of the 6 Stars defensemen last night was $5.6 million. Dan Boyle makes $6.67 million.


Quotes from the locker room after a tough defeat:

Marc Crawford:

"Their goalie played really well," Dallas coach Marc Crawford said. "He carried them through two periods where we, for all intents and purposes, dominated. We stayed with it, and we talked about trying to just continue to have those 60 minutes efforts where you do more things right and you just keep piling those things on. We got a little bit of a payoff at the start of the third period. We did make a couple of mistakes out there tonight, and they were costly."

"He's an offensive player and I don't think it's going to bother Ivan at all," Crawford said. "He's played real solid defensively for us and this is an unfortunate break. He's a bright young player and he's a bright young prospect for our organization."

Stephane Robidas:

"It's just a bad bounce," defenseman Stephane Robidas said about the unfortunate play by Vishnevskiy. "I hope he doesn't worry too much about that. It happens to everybody. It didn't cost us the game or anything like that. It's a bad bounce. The puck just bounces. It could happen to anybody. He's a good kid, a good player, he played well, and we've just got to move forward."

"It's a good measuring stick when you play a top team in the league," Robidas said. "That's a team you want to compare yourself to, and that's hard to beat. Obviously, it's disappointing to get a loss like that, but we've got to build on a positive. I think we played pretty good."

"I feel like at the end of the game we had some quality chances and their goalie played well," Robidas said. "We had a few meltdowns, but I think if you look at the team we were playing, it was a pretty good team. The good thing is we battled until the end, we had a chance, we pulled the goalie, and we never really gave up in that game, and that's a positive sign."


And finally, Fear The Fin was rather complimentary after the game:

Holy Macanaugh were the boys lucky to walk out of Dallas last night with two points. Evgeni Nabokov was spectacular in just about every way, and you can damn well go all in on the fact that he was working some crazy voodoo magic the moment he stepped off the plane-- Richard Hantz was his name, and the red pipes were playing his game. Those first forty minutes were all about sustained pressure in the defensive end of the ice, with the Sharks generating very little in the form of quality scoring chances. San Jose had a good deal of trouble stringing together two quality shifts in a row, and if Nabokov or his post pawns don't play ball you're looking at a deficit ranging anywhere from one to four heading into the final frame.

On a side note, Tom Wandell has the gnarliest set of wheels I've seen in a long time. Between him, Jamie Benn, and James Neal, the Stars look like they have the pieces in place to be a dark horse later in the year provided those guys continue their progression.

That's very kind of them to say.