Mattias Janmark returned to the lineup from injury and posted his first career two-goal game and Antti Niemi made 34 saves against his former team as the Dallas Stars beat the San Jose Sharks 4-2 on Saturday.
Patrick Sharp added a power-play goal and Jamie Benn scored an empty-netter to help the Stars remain in first place in the Central Division by winning for the fourth time in five games. Niemi, traded to Dallas last off-season after five seasons in San Jose, got the win in his first start in two weeks.
Joel Ward scored a short-handed goal and Tomas Hertl also scored for San Jose. But the Sharks’ late attempt at a rally fell short in their third straight regulation loss at home, once again delaying their playoff clinching. Martin Jones made 13 saves.
Janmark had missed six games with an upper-body injury and wasn’t certain he’d return to the lineup until after taking the pregame skate against the Sharks. His return was welcomed by the Stars as he scored the first two goals of the game to help lead them to victory.
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But it didn’t come easy as Dallas struggled to hold onto the 3-0 lead after two periods. San Jose’s comeback attempt started when Jordie Benn gave the puck away in his own zone to Ward with Dallas on the power play. Ward knocked it into the empty net to give the Sharks a spark.
San Jose then picked up the forecheck and added a second goal when Hertl knocked in the rebound of Joe Pavelski’s shot to make it 3-2 with 14:14 to go.
But Dallas killed two penalties later in the third to hold onto the win. The Stars killed all six penalties against the third ranked power-play unit in the league.
The game got off to a chippy start when Dallas forward Antoine Roussel was hit hard twice within seconds by Roman Polak and Tommy Wingels. Roussel got up from the second hit and slashed Michael Haley in retaliation. As soon as Roussel got out of the penalty box, he started a fight with Wingels and appeared to pull his hair before the linesmen broke it up.
The Sharks dominated the play after that for a long stretch, getting sustained zone time and good chances against Niemi. But San Jose couldn’t get a goal despite a 12-3 shots advantage.
Dallas then broke through first late in the period when Janmark deflected a point shot from Jordie Benn past Jones. The Stars nearly added to the lead in the closing seconds of the period but Jones stopped Sharp on a breakaway.
Janmark scored his second early in the second period during 4-on-4 play when Roussel and Haley were sent off after another tussle. Jason Spezza drew Jones out of the net and slid a pass in front to Janmark, who knocked it in for his 15th goal.
Pavelski then took a boarding call late in the second, leading to Sharp’s power-play goal after a nice cross-ice feed from Spezza.
NOTES: San Jose D Brent Burns had 10 shots to give him 324 for the season, breaking the team mark of 317 set by Jonathan Cheechoo in 2005-06. … Sharks F Joonas Donskoi sat out after leaving Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury. … Stars D Kris Russell (lower body) missed his third straight game.
First Period—1, Dal, Janmark 14 (Jo.Benn, Hemsky), 15:28. Penalties—Dillon, SJ (roughing), 7:38; Roussel, Dal (slashing), 11:55; Roussel, Dal, major (fighting), 14:05; Wingels, SJ, major (fighting), 14:05.
Second Period—2, Dal, Janmark 15 (Spezza, Johns), 4:22. 3, Dal, Sharp 18 (Spezza, Klingberg), 14:19 (pp). Penalties—Roussel, Dal (cross-checking), 2:36; Haley, SJ (unsportsmanlike conduct), 2:36; Klingberg, Dal (hooking), 6:40; Pavelski, SJ (boarding), 13:41; Johns, Dal (elbowing), 15:35; Klingberg, Dal (roughing), 19:56; Thornton, SJ (roughing), 19:56.
Third Period—4, SJ, Ward 21, 3:44 (sh). 5, SJ, Hertl 19 (Pavelski, Burns), 5:48. 6, Dal, Ja.Benn 37 (Sharp), 18:52 (en). Penalties—Ja.Benn, Dal (hooking), :17; DeMelo, SJ (slashing), 2:08; Goligoski, Dal (hooking), 10:09; Janmark, Dal (tripping), 13:24.
Shots on Goal—Dal 5-9-3—17. SJ 12-11-13—36. Power plays—Dal 1 of 3; SJ 0 of 6. Goalies—Dal, Niemi 23-12-7 (36 shots-34 saves). SJ, Jones 35-21-4 (16-13). A—16,439 (17,562). T—2:35.