If Antti Niemi expected a warm homecoming at SAP Center, this wasn’t it.
The Sharks (23-18-2) pelted their former goalie from all angles, threading through Stars defenders often and easily en route to a thrilling 4-3 overtime win.
Niemi resisted the potent San Jose offense admirably throughout the first period, twisting his body to make a number of impressive saves. The former Shark’s contortion act proved unsustainable by the second though, when the Sharks scored twice to secure a 2-1 lead.
In overtime, it was a Tomas Hertl shot that bounced off Niemi’s pad that ultimately sealed San Jose’s fifth-straight victory.
“I am so happy to have this goal. In the last five games for everybody and for me too, we’ve been playing great hockey and making a lot of chances.”
Dallas’ Tyler Seguin set the stage for a dramatic finish early in the third period when he froze Sharks goalie Martin Jones with a cross-body wrist shot that tied the game at 2-2.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic responded with his second goal of the game during a Sharks power play later in the period, only to have it negated in just 12 seconds by a Jason Spezza snapshot that rounded out the score again at three apiece.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic said:
“It’s nice to contribute offensively and get the win, that’s what’s most important. You shoot it hard enough and you shoot to score and you’ll get rewarded. I got rewarded twice tonight.”
The Stars (29-12-5) opened up the game’s back-and-forth scoring,when a flip from Stars center Mattias Janmark ricocheted off the stick of Logan Couture and landed behind the advancing Sharks defenders, giving Ales Hemsky the space to skate past Jones for the easy backhand.
Janmark’s goal left the Sharks behind 1-0 as they entered the second period, and early deficits haven’t played out well for San Jose this season. The Sharks had only come back to win after trailing at the end of the first once before tonight’s game.
Chris Tierney said:
“I think we felt fine. We thought we were playing a good first period. We thought we were the better team at that point. There’s no panic on this team.”
A productive second period buoyed the Sharks past the frustrating first in which they failed to capitalize on numerous scoring chances. By the end of the period, the Sharks had taken a 2-1 lead after Chris Tierney cleaned up a Tommy Wingels slapshot that bounced off the glove of Niemi. Tierney’s goal followed the first of the pair of scores by Vlasic, who now has seven on the season.
Head Coach Peter DeBoer said:
“I liked their first period, but I loved their second period. Through 40 minutes I was very happy with our game. I don’t know if we though that it was just going to be easier, but you have to give them credit.”
The Sharks look to continue their newfound consistency at home Monday when they host the Ottawa Senators.