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With fate decided, Sharks fall short against Stars

by Eric Gilmore /

SAN JOSE -- Jamie Benn scored two goals and led the Dallas Stars to a 5-1 victory against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Monday, but he was in no mood to celebrate.

The Stars and Sharks were eliminated from contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs when the Winnipeg Jets completed a 2-0 win against the Minnesota Wild a few minutes after the opening faceoff.

"There's really not much to celebrate anymore," Benn said. "We didn't do our job this year, and that's pretty much it. It's tough thinking how many leads we blew in the third period. We thought we could outscore teams, but we didn't play the way we should have. It's defense first and that's where we let down. We didn't play defense."

Patrick Eaves, Colton Sceviour and Ryan Garbutt scored for Dallas (39-31-10), and Jhonas Enroth made 23 saves.

Joe Thornton scored for San Jose (39-32-9).

One season after the Sharks squandered a 3-0 series lead and lost in seven games to the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference First Round, their streak of 10 consecutive playoff berths ended.

"We just weren't good enough throughout the season, collectively as a group and individually," Sharks center Logan Couture said. "Just not good enough throughout the year. That's basically what it was. We had stretches, but too many bad stretches where we just weren't good enough consistently.

"It stinks. There's nothing else you can really say. As hockey players, you want to give yourself an opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup. We're not going to have that chance this year. Especially with the way last year ended, it's very, very disappointing."

The Sharks lost their final home game of the season and finished 19-17-5 at SAP Center, where they have typically had one of the NHL's best home-ice advantages.

"Well, that's the reason why we're not going to play in the playoffs," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "That's a very frustrating thing. This building for years and years, it was a pretty sacred place to play in as a home team, and we just didn't have that this year in our own building.

“Even tonight as we're going out for the beginning of the game, both teams are aware what the score is in Minnesota and what the ramifications are of that. We win a draw on the opening faceoff, and we end up playing in our end and it's in our net the first shift, so that doesn't help at all."

Sceviour gave Dallas a 1-0 lead 28 seconds into the game when he put a rebound past Alex Stalock from close range. Defenseman Jason Demers, playing in San Jose for the first time since the Sharks traded him to Dallas for Brenden Dillon on Nov. 21, had the primary assist.

"I was fortunate enough to get off an early shot that resulted in a goal," Demers said. "It was kind of weird the whole game. Those guys are good friends of mine. It was a surreal moment, but it was fun."

The Stars made it 2-0 on Patrick Eaves' power play goal at 17:32 with Barclay Goodrow in the penalty box for elbowing Tyler Seguin. Twenty-two seconds into the power play, Benn took two whacks at a rebound from right of crease. The puck caromed across the crease and bounced off Eaves' skate and past Stalock.

Dallas extended its lead at 7:53 of the second period when Benn scored a 5-on-3 power-play goal from point-blank range to make it 3-0. Sharks forward Joe Pavelski went to the penalty box at 6:12 for hooking, and Brent Burns joined him at 7:27 for slashing.

Twenty-six seconds later, Benn scored his 31st goal of the season, lifting the puck over Stalock's glove.

"We've had some tough losses on some big mistakes, but we have been playing good hockey for a long stretch now," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "We came out sharp. We've faced a lot of adversity, and that should help us moving forward. Those though losses are lessons."

The Stars have gone 12-5 over their past 17 games.

"It's kind of frustrating," Demers said. "It's nice to see how we can play, but we put ourselves behind the eight ball. You think back to games you gave up earlier in the season."

Thornton answered with a goal at 13:27, putting the puck between Enroth's pads on a rush with two seconds left on a power play. The goal was Thornton's 16th, five more than he had last season.

Benn scored his 32nd goal of the season at 15:08 of the third period, taking a pass in the slot from Seguin and sending the puck into a wide-open net. That goal gave Benn 80 points, breaking his high of 79 set last season.

Garbutt scored on a breakaway with two minutes remaining.

Couture said he didn't hear the final score from the game in Minnesota until after the second period.

"You watch that third period when we knew we were out of the playoffs, it was bad," Couture said. "Selfish plays by guys, bad line changes, penalties. Play for each other, play with pride. It's disappointing because we didn't in the third. We let each other down. We let our goalie down.

"They score a breakaway, they score a tap-in backdoor when guys are changing. It's not good enough. You've got to be a proud hockey player. You go out and work as hard as you possibly can. We've got to do that."

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