Work in Sports
SAN JOSE, California (Ticker) -- The San Jose Sharks finally put a puck past Ed Belfour, then another. And that was enough to get back in their Western Conference semifinal series.
Owen Nolan returned to the lineup and scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period as the Sharks followed back-to-back shutout losses with a 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars.
Mike Ricci had the other tally for San Jose, which trails the best-of-seven series two games to one but can tie it up on Friday at home.
Belfour stopped all 37 shots over the first two contests and the first 14 tonight. With 14:18 left in the second period and the Sharks on a two-man advantage, Gary Suter's wrister from the top of the left faceoff circle deflected off Ricci, who was tied up with two Stars in front of the net, and got by Belfour.
"That's the way we set up 5-on-3," Ricci said. "I went to the top of the crease and Gary made a great shot. I just tried to get out of the way of it. I guess it hit me and went in the net."
"It might have been (interference)," said Belfour. "That kind of stuff happens in playoff hockey and there's nothing you can do about it. He's in front of me and pretty much backed into me. I tried to make the save and I think he turned me a little bit."
It was San Jose's first goal in 171 minutes, 28 seconds and stopped Belfour's shutout streak at 164:35.
"That was our game plan, to get more shots," Nolan said. "'The Eagle' has been playing great for them, making some big saves. And we went in with the philosophy that we needed to get more shots, more rebounds and hopefully we could chip something by him."
"When you haven't scored in seven periods, you've got to be careful that you don't have guys bolting or something not in the game plan," added Sharks coach Darryl Sutter. "That's when the other team can capitalize."
Belfour has been vilified by fans at San Jose Arena and was booed throughout tonight's game after leaving the Sharks for Dallas via free agency following the 1996-97 season. He was trying to become the first goaltender since Toronto's Frank McCool in 1945 to record shutouts in the first three games of a playoff series.
Just over nine minutes later, Vincent Damphousse moved down the right wing and sent a soft pass ahead to Nolan. The Sharks captain made a one-handed poke at the puck, deflecting it past Belfour from the bottom of the faceoff circle and inside the far goalpost.
"It's Vinny's game. He's got great vision and great hands," Nolan said. "I just tried to drive to the net, redirect the puck. I was fortunate to get a stick on it and we got a lucky bounce out of it."
It was the team-best seventh playoff goal for Nolan, who missed Game Two with shoulder and foot injuries.
"I'm still sore, but it helps to play in this rink with the crowd cheering," he said.
Steve Shields made the lead stand up, stopping all 23 shots over the final two periods and finishing with 30 saves.
In between the Sharks' goals, Shields stopped a breakaway by defenseman Richard Matvichuk, who came in alone after exiting the penalty box with 6:18 remaining. Shields also squeezed his pads to deny Mike Modano on a breakaway with 1:09 left in the period.
"I felt I was playing well and the chances they got, I thought I was in good position. But that's to be expected," Shields said. "There's a lot of great players out there, they're going to get their chances.
Alexander Korolyuk nearly provided San Jose with insurance, but he shot high off the right goalpost after stickhandling through the Stars' defense with just under 17 minutes to go in the third period.
Dallas failed to muster a shot during its lone power play of the period before pulling Belfour for an extra attacker in the final minute. Shields turned away the Stars' last chance when he hugged the left post and stuffed Kirk Muller with 31 seconds left.
"I'm more nervous at the beginning of the game than I am at the end," Shields said. "At the end, it's great. The third periods go by really quickly, especially tonight. I was having a good time out there, making some saves."
Dallas scored first for the seventh time in eight playoff games. With Mike Rathje in the penalty box for tripping, Shields got a piece of Brett Hull's bad-angle shot from the left side, but Modano put home the rebound for his fifth playoff goal and third of the series.
Dallas fell to 4-1 in one-goal decisions in the playoffs.
"I felt the second period was very undisciplined on our part," Modano said. "When you spend 10 minutes in the penalty box, it's bound to come up and get back on you. And you throw a little interference on the (Blake) Sloan penalty that was pretty innocent, then you go 5-on-3. You give them enough cracks at it, eventually they're going to get one."