Norstrom's rare goal lifts Stars over Sharks in rough regular-season finale

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

DALLAS - Stars defenceman Mattias Norstrom doesn't mind rough-and-tumble games, especially when he scores the winning goal.

Norstrom's rare goal put his team ahead for good late in the second period as the Dallas Stars rallied to beat the San Jose Sharks 4-2 on Sunday in a physical regular-season finale that included 160 penalty minutes, 95 for the Sharks.

The game meant nothing to either team in terms of the final standings, but a physical tone was set early with a series of fights that contributed to a playoff feel.

"Once in a while a game like that is fun," Norstrom said. "We showed we're professionals and have personal pride. We weren't going to take it easy on them and they did the same. We both showed up to battle."

Dallas erased a 2-0 deficit on goals by Antti Miettinen, Stu Barnes and Norstrom in the final 10 minutes of the second period.

With the game tied at two and the Stars with an extra attacker on a delayed Sharks penalty, Norstrom fired Toby Petersen's cross-ice pass into an open net with 13 seconds remaining in the second period for Norstrom's second goal of the season and 18th in 14 seasons.

"It was a great pass by Toby to set me up," Norstrom said. "We didn't have a lot going for us early, but coming back from two goals down, it's great to have that character in our team."

Steve Ott's 11th goal of the season, a blast from the right circle with 1:22 left, extended Dallas' lead to 4-2.

Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo had power-play goals for the Sharks, who closed out the regular season with consecutive losses following an 18-0-2 run that earned them the Pacific Division title and No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

San Jose will play seventh-seeded Calgary in the first round of the playoffs.

Brenden Morrow had two assists and Marty Turco stopped 32 shots for the Stars, who ended the regular season in a 4-8-2 tailspin that pushed them out of first place in the Pacific and into the No. 5 playoff seed. Dallas faces No. 4 Anaheim in the first round, and the Stars expect a rough series against the Ducks.

"The physical element is a huge part of what's coming up," Stars defenceman Philippe Boucher said. "We showed we're willing to hit hard and play physical. It was good to see."

There were 105 penalty minutes in the first period, 57 to the Sharks who collected three 10-minute misconducts and three fighting majors. Dallas' Stephane Robidas received a game misconduct and a five-minute major for checking from behind during the opening 20 minutes.

Joe Thornton, Alexei Semenov, and Jody Shelley of San Jose, and Trevor Daley of Dallas all received misconduct penalties in the opening period. Shelley was assessed a game misconduct in the second period.

"It got heated," Shelley said. "Once the playoffs start, all that stuff that happened today will be forgotten. Of course, if we play (Dallas) in the second round, it will all resurface."

The Sharks took exception when Ott traded punches with Thornton, San Jose's top scorer, at 8:42 of the first period. That led to a series of altercations.

"When you get cheap shots, when guys are taking runs at us, we're not trying to prove we're tough but we've got to respond," Sharks defenceman Douglas Murray said.

San Jose had 2:29 worth of a 5-on-3 near the end of the first period, and the Sharks capitalized with Marleau's 19th goal of the season from the right circle at 17:33.

The Sharks had two more power plays in the first five minutes of the second period and they took advantage on the second one when Cheechoo notched his 23rd of the season from the right circle at 5:46 for a 2-0 edge.

Dallas pulled within 2-1 at 11:35 of the second period on Miettinen's 15th of the season, a one-timer from the high slot off a setup by Mike Modano.

Barnes tied it at two at 16:13 of the second period, skating down the right side and beating goaltender Brian Boucher to the glove side for Barnes' 12th of the season.

Notes: For the third straight game, Dallas was without C Brad Richards (soreness) and C Mike Ribeiro (flu). The Stars expect both to be healthy for the playoffs. ...Dallas called up RW Konstantin Pushkarev from the AHL Iowa Stars prior to the game, but Pushkarev was among the Stars' scratches, along with RW Jere Lehtinen (flu). ...Out for the Sharks were D Craig Rivet, C Jeremy Roenick and RW Mike Grier. ...Cheechoo returned to the lineup after missing six games with a head injury.



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