Ruff had the idea that if the game was forced to a tiebreaker, he would use rookie Alex Chiassson as one of his first three shooters.
The opportunity presented itself and paid off immediately as Chiasson was the only player to score in the shootout, lifting the Stars to a 4-3 victory on Thursday night.
"Before the game we knew he was going to be number two or three," Ruff said. "He had a goal in the shootout during the preseason (against Florida).
"Chaisser took me off the hook with that one."
The Sharks are no longer perfect, but with the Colorado Avalanche losing at home to Detroit, San Jose is the only NHL team without a regulation defeat this season.
The Stars improved to 3-3, and the Sharks fell to 6-0-1, one game shy of tying their best mark of 7-0, established last season.
"It's not about the streak," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "It's about living for today. We're disappointed we didn't get the two points. We probably didn't play well enough."
Chiasson was the only one of the six skaters to score in the shootout, beating Antti Niemi by firing a shot just inside the right post.
"I always like to come with speed," Chiasson said. "I think it shows the goalie you've got a couple moves if you're coming fast. I just got my head up and let it go."
Chiasson is Dallas' leader with four goals in six games this season. He has 10 goals in 13 career NHL games.
The Stars outshot San Jose 31-29 in regulation. The Sharks took all five shots in overtime but couldn't beat Dan Ellis even though Dallas was short-handed for the final 1:02 of overtime.
"You had to make a good read and try to stay big, try to stay patient and force them to shoot," Ellis said of his shootout strategy.
San Jose, which scored eight power-play goals in its first six games, was 0 for 5 against Dallas.
The game hadn't started anywhere near as well for the Stars, who came back from one-goal deficits three times.
San Jose took a 1-0 lead just 9 seconds into the game. Off the opening faceoff, Tyler Kennedy skated along the right wing and shot the puck past Ellis for his first goal this season.
"It's a tough start," Ruff said. "I liked the fact that we dug in and were able to keep coming at them. It's a sign of a team with a will to win."
Ellis took the blame for the quick strike.
"It's not a goal that you want to let in," he said. "I need to be a little sharper in those first few minutes to give ourselves a chance to get our feet under us."
Dallas tied it on Tyler Seguin's rebound goal at 16:44. His third goal extended his point streak to five games.
The tie lasted barely a minute as the Sharks took a 2-1 lead when Matthew Nieto skated to the top of the slot and fired a shot off the right post and in at 17:52.
The Stars' Cody Eakin and his line with Chiasson and Ray Whitney tied it for the second and third times, in the second period.
At 1:53, Trevor Daley scored his first goal this season on a rebound of Eakin's shot. Eakin scored his second goal to make it 3-3 at 12:58.
"It's tough," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said, "especially when you score a goal and they come back and score on the next shift. Just try to continue the momentum, and we didn't do that."
Daley was involved in another goal at 12:31 of the period when San Jose's Patrick Marleau attempted a wraparound. The play was first ruled a save by Ellis. A review showed that the puck had gone off Daley's skate and across the goal line.
The goal was the sixth this season for Marleau. He and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby are the only NHL players with at least one point in all seven games played.
The Sharks had entered the game averaging better than 41 shots per game and allowing fewer than 24.
"This is great for us," Chiasson said of the victory. "We've been playing up and down throughout the year. Hopefully we can keep that momentum going into this weekend."
Niemi has played every minute in goal for the Sharks this season.
NOTES: Kennedy's goal was the fastest recorded against the Stars franchise during its 47 seasons in Minnesota and Dallas. The earliest goal in San Jose's 22 seasons was by Stephane Matteau 8 seconds into a game against St. Louis on Jan. 11, 2000. ... Sharks RW Adam Burish, a seven-year NHL veteran, had back surgery in Los Angeles to correct a disc problem. ... Ray Whitney's two second-period assists gave him nine during a six-game point streak (all assists) against the Sharks.