Hertl the OT hero as Sharks topple Stars

Tomas Hertl scored the winning goal in overtime as the San Jose Sharks defeated the Dallas Stars.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Despite squandering a pair of third-period leads, the San Jose Sharks managed to extend their winning streak.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored twice and assisted on Tomas Hertl‘s winner 1:12 into overtime against former teammate Antti Niemi to lead the Sharks to their fifth straight win, 4-3 over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.

“You just have to find a way to win,” Vlasic said. “That’s what we did. We’ve put a couple in a row. We have to keep it rolling. We have teams to catch if we want to secure a playoff spot. We’re far from it but it’s good right now.”

Chris Tierney also scored and Martin Jones made 32 saves to give San Jose three straight home wins for the first time since last January.

Ales Hemsky, Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza scored for the slumping Stars, who have lost six of seven overall and seven straight on the road. But they earned a point by erasing a pair of third-period deficits.

``It was definitely a step in the right direction,'' Spezza said. ``We resembled more of the way we should be playing.''

Niemi made 35 saves in his return to San Jose. Niemi was the starting goalie for the Sharks for five seasons before being dealt to Dallas last June. He got a nice ovation and a video tribute in his first game as a visitor in the Shark Tank since the 2010 Western Conference finals with Chicago.

``I had lots of fun,'' Niemi said. ``The whole day was exciting.''

But he couldn't stop Hertl's wrist shot in overtime from the faceoff circle. Hertl has three goals and three assists during the winning streak as he has thrived on a line with Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton.

``I thought he was on the puck all night,'' coach Peter DeBoer said. ``I thought he was hard to play against. He created a lot of chances. He was really hard for them to handle throughout the game. He was feeling good tonight and when we were deciding on guys to throw out there in overtime, his name was near the top of the list.''

Despite playing the back end of a back-to-back, the Stars had all the energy to start the third period. They tied the game just 33 seconds into the period when Seguin took advantage of a failed clearing attempt by Joe Pavelski to beat Jones with a wrister from the high slot for his 25th goal.

Dallas took 11 shots on goal in the period before a trip in the offensive zone by Jamie Benn gave San Jose a power play midway through the third. Vlasic then got the puck at the top of the circle and beat Niemi for his first career multigoal game.

The lead lasted just 12 seconds before Spezza tied it for Dallas with a spinning shot from the top of the faceoff circle.

Despite hitting two posts and generating several scoring chances in the first period, the Sharks trailed 1-0 when a puck bounced off the boards to Hemsky in front and he slipped a puck under Jones' pad to give Dallas the lead.

That was a bad omen for San Jose as the team that has scored first had won every game this season at the Shark Tank. In fact, the Sharks hadn't won a home game when they allowed the first goal since last Jan. 29 against Anaheim.

But they broke that drought by scoring twice in the second period on goals from Vlasic and Tierney.

NOTES: Stars D Jordie Benn did not play after the first period because of a lower-body injury. ... Sharks D Dylan Demelo got his first career point with an assist on Vlasic's second goal. ... Thornton has 18 points in his past 14 games and tied Stan Mikita for 17th place all-time with his 926th career assist.