Programming note: Sharks-Blackhawks coverage starts Sunday at 3:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
DALLAS – The Sharks picked a good time to exorcise their third period demons.
After giving up several third period leads this year, and generally not playing very well late in games, San Jose exploded for four goals in the final frame against the Stars on Saturday night, turning a 3-1 deficit into a rousing 5-3 victory as they kicked off a seven-game road trip.
“I think someone said between the second and third, it’s our time to do it to someone else because we’ve had it done to us a couple times this year,” said Logan Couture, who had three assists including a setup of Brent Burns for the game-tying marker.
James Sheppard, who extended his goal-scoring streak to three games, said: “We just really wanted it, man. We came out hard. We knew if we played our game in the third that we had a chance. Just played the whole time.”
Patrick Marleau made it 3-2 on the power play at 3:51 of the third, while Burns’ two goals tied the game and put San Jose ahead to stay. On a two-on-one, he easily smacked in a perfect dish through the slot by Couture at 6:38 of third to make it 3-3. About four minutes later, he took advantage of a rebound that kicked out to his stick near the top of the circle.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Burns ignites rally, Sharks beat Stars 5-3]
The defenseman now has six goals on the year, tops among NHL blueliners.
“Offensively, he’s been dynamic for us. He’s been excellent,” Todd McLellan said. “He’s always had that in his game so he’s not surprising anybody in our organization. We’re happy that it’s coming out because it’s got to make him feel really good back there from an offensive perspective. Defensively his game is coming along well. He’s a real important player for us.”
The Sharks’ timing was ideal in that they took advantage of a struggling Stars team that saw its losing streak extended to seven games (0-5-2). They’ve still only won a single game on home ice, too (1-3-4).
That the Stars might be ripe for the picking was part of the message from the head coach between the second and third periods.
“We talked about them probably being a little bit fragile with the record they had,” McLellan said. “We talked between periods about checking well, not giving them anything else. Power play being ready in case we got one, it was.
“We just stuck with it. We didn’t go away. The way the league is this year, we’ve seen it with our group – there is no lead that’s safe, and you’re never out of it when you’re coming from behind. We used that a bit between periods, as well.”
Alex Stalock was involved in a few key plays late in the game, in what was his first start in two weeks. He made a nimble pad stop on Colton Sceviour with five minutes to go and San Jose holding a 4-3 edge, getting his right pad on the attempt from close range after both players had been knocked from their skates.
“He was on his butt and he made a heck of a play. Those are the saves you need to make to win a game,” Stalock said. “You think he’s out of it and we’re both kind of out of the play, and all of a sudden it’s a quick play. You make that save, maybe it’s one that makes a difference.”
McLellan said: “Al played exceptionally well.”
Stalock was nearly knocked out of the game with a little more than a minute to go after Antoine Roussel drilled him, but eventually the goalie regained his composure.
[RELATED: Sharks unhappy with Roussel's late antics]
Headed into a difficult match with Chicago on Sunday, the Sharks began their lengthy trip in the best way possible.
“It’s game one. This is best way to start, with a win, and to win straight out – not take it into overtime or a shootout, and we did,” Stalock said.