After dropping the front end of their two-game home series against the Stars on Tuesday night, the Sharks fell again on Thursday night, losing 4-2 and handing Dallas the two-game series sweep on home ice. The Sharks, who opened the week with a six-point lead over the Stars, saw their lead shrink down to just three points after falling in a shootout on Tuesday and in regulation on Thursday.
“It was a good week for us,” said Dave Tippett, Head Coach for the Dallas Stars. “We got some team building in but we had to come in here with the intention of playing well. If we were going to get ourselves to the level in the standings that San Jose is, then these were very important games for us and we gained three points on them.”
Captain Patrick Marleau
, who scored a goal in each game of the two-game series against Dallas, felt the Sharks had not played their best hockey this week despite being just three seconds away from winning the first game of the series on Tuesday.
“We’ve just got to get back to getting shots. We’re getting away from it,” Marleau said. “We know what it takes to win, we’ve just got to get back to it. Clearly, there’s no excuse for letting this game slide. It shouldn’t happen.”
Marleau’s goal just after the midway point of the second period cut the Stars lead to 3-2, but the Sharks failed to pull any closer. Failing to establish a consistent forecheck in the second half of the game, the Sharks constantly found themselves scrambling around in their own zone, 200-feet away from the Dallas goal.
“Actions speak louder than words. We had trouble getting it in tonight, for whatever reason,” said Marleau. “You need everyone on the ice working together and we haven’t had that the past couple game. When we only have a few guys on the ice that are working and the rest of the guys doing other things, it doesn‘t work. You don’t get pressure, you don’t get set-up, you don’t get things going.”
single handedly got the crowd into the game three minutes into the second period with his inspired bout with Dallas goon Krys Barch. Dallas forward Eric Lindros (six-foot-four, 245-pounds) took a run at Murray (six-foot-three, 240-pounds) and clipped him with a dangerous knee-to-knee hit. Murray, who lost his balance on the collision, inadvertently hit Lindros with a high-stick in the process. Lindros flailed to the ice before flying in at Murray with a cheap shot cross-check aimed at Murray’s head. Lindros then stepped aside and let Barch take his fight, an instigator penalty and a beating at the hands of the noticeably stronger Murray.
The result of the mess was a power play for San Jose, but the Sharks were unable to convert. Instead it was Dallas that would strike while Murray and Barch were serving their fighting majors. The goal would eventually hold up to be the game winner.
“I don’t know what the explanation is, but this can’t go on,” said Murray.
GAME OF INCHES
The Sharks were on the wrong end of a pair unlucky bounces on Thursday night. The result in each case was a goal for the Dallas Stars. The first unlucky break came with 4:44 remaining in the first period. As Stars forward Jeff Halpern circled the net, he found a streaking Stu Barnes who ramped a shot up the shaft of Murray’s stick and in past Evgeni Nabokov.
Dallas’ third goal would also take a fortuitous bounce in the Stars’ favor. This time the puck careening off Scott Hannan’s stick and in behind Vesa Toskala who was on in relief duty. Jere Lehtinen, operating on a five-on-three man advantage, unintentionally banked his centering feed off Hannan’s outstretched stick and in between Toskala’s legs as he went side-to-side on the play.
SAN JOSE’S STARS CONTINUE TO SHINE
Despite the Sharks recent skid, Thornton and Marleau continue to lead the Sharks on the offensive side of the puck. Over the past eight games, the two have combined to score half of the Sharks goals (9 of 18), going 5-2-1 in those games.
Thornton has recorded 12 points (3-9=12), including the primary assists on both goals on Thursday, and posted a plus-8 player rating during that span. Marleau also has recorded 12 points (6-6=12) and posted a plus-6 player rating in that span.
“When everybody’s working, everybody’s on the same page, we’re scary,” said Marleau. “That’s the way we have to play.”
The Sharks, who remained healthy by enlarge throughout the first half of the season, have had their lineup shaken up recently thanks to the injury bug. Center Joe Pavelski
sat out on Thursday night with lower body soreness, while Nabokov and left wing Mark Smith both left the game with groin injuries. Neither player returned. All three players are listed as day-to-day and will be evaluated again on Friday.
“Nabokov tweaked his groin on the second goal,” said Wilson. “I had no intentions of pulling him.”
Though Wilson had no intention of pulling his goaltender, Nabokov was relieved to open the second period by Toskala who played the remaining 40 minutes.
The Sharks will look to regroup on Saturday when they host a struggling Chicago Blackhawks team. Game time is set for a matinee start time of 1:00 PM. The game is already sold-out, but you can catch all the action on FSN Bay Area in high-definition, KFOX 98.5 FM, Sharks Radio Network Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.