SAN JOSE –- Winning four straight games with the parity in today’s NHL is no simple task. But, let’s face it. It’s easier when the opposition is Toronto, Calgary, Winnipeg and Edmonton, the four fumbling foes floored by San Jose headed into Saturday night’s game at SAP Center.
The Stars, although they are struggling and have some issues to work through defensively, are a different animal. Dallas entered with the NHL’s best offense and is already a near lock to make the postseason in a difficult Central Division.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s three points, including the first two-goal game of his career, and Tomas Hertl’s overtime score gave San Jose its fifth-straight win, 4-3. It was one of their most impressive performances to date, and their best effort since the final game before Christmas, in Los Angeles on Dec. 22.
[KURZ: Instant Replay: Sharks edge Stars on Hertl's OT score]
It came despite the Sharks falling behind 1-0 on Ales Hemsky’s first-period goal. Prior to Saturday, San Jose was 0-18-1 in its last 19 home games when surrendering the opening score, including 0-12 this season.
There was no panic in their game, though, as the Sharks could have struck for three or four goals, easily, had they gotten a few bounces in the opening frame.
“I think we felt fine. We felt we were playing a good first period and we thought we were the better team at that point,” said Chris Tierney.
The result of their coolness was taking a 2-1 lead in the second period on Vlasic’s first goal, and a power play score by Tierney on what was the team’s third unit.
Vlasic’s third-period goal also came with a man advantage as part of the second unit, after the top group struggled all night to generate any chances.
“The two power play goals were huge,” Pete DeBoer said. “I think when you're winning games and playing well you're getting contributions from different areas from different people, and I think that was the case tonight."
Vlasic now has 12 points in his last 12 games (4g, 8a), including goals in two straight.
“If you shoot it hard enough and you shoot to score you’ll get rewarded. I got rewarded twice tonight,” Vlasic said.
Dallas, which was playing in the second of a back-to-back, didn’t go quietly after getting outplayed through 40 minutes. The Stars tied the game 2-2 early in the third, and looked primed to take another lead with 11 consecutive shots on goal before Jamie Benn tripped Joe Pavelski deep in Dallas’ offensive zone.
That led to Vlasic’s second goal, but the Stars answered right away with a Jason Spezza wrist-shot that should probably have been stopped by Martin Jones.
“You wouldn’t expect to get that call very often. It’s just bang-bang,” Pavelski said of the Benn trip. “Obviously it’s nice to see that, and it was good for the power play to score off that.”
Hertl played the hero in overtime, slipping a wrister through Antti Niemi 1:12 into the extra session. He has three goals and three assists since moving up to the Joe Thornton-Pavelski line for the first of the five straight wins.
“I’m so happy now to play with those two guys,” Hertl said. “We play pretty good hockey.”
So is the rest of the team lately.
“It was good to see against a good offensive team,” Vlasic said. “In the third period we kind of played into their game a little bit being casual through the neutral zone, but we stuck with it and found a way to get two points.”