By Mary Walsh
SAN JOSE– In their last home game of the season, the San Jose Sharks fell to the Dallas Stars 5-1. Before the game finished, both the Sharks and Stars were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. The Winnipeg Jets defeated the Minnesota Wild, putting the Jets out of reach for Dallas or San Jose. The Los Angeles Kings obliged the Sharks by losing in overtime to Vancouver. That makes it just possible that the Sharks could have the opportunity to play spoilers to the Kings’ last minute scramble into the 2015 playoffs. Probably that is not much motivation for the Sharks today. It is not clear what would motivate the Sharks at this point.
Joe Thornton scored the Sharks’ only goal on Monday. Jamie Benn scored the game winner for Dallas. Jason Demers was roundly applauded by the Sharks fans when he was featured on the jumbotron. The Sharks gave away a lot of signed jerseys and gifts for fan appreciation night. It is possible that those last two facts are more significant than the first two.
It did not matter, as far as playoffs go, who won Monday. Still, one team was more eager to win than the other.
28 seconds into the game, Jason Demers took a shot from the blue line. Al Stalock stopped it but kicked it out to Colton Sceviour, who was waiting, unmolested, between the blue paint and the faceoff circle. Sceviour scored, assists went to Demers and Vernon Fiddler. A few seconds later, Mike Brown and Antoine Roussel fought. They both went to the box and the score was still 1-0 Stars.
The Sharks took the first penalty of the game, a tripping penalty to Melker Karlsson. The Sharks killed the penalty off and by the midpoint of the period, they were near even on the shot clock.
At 9:51, Mike Brown was called for charging Trevor Daley, a call that did not go over well with the crowd or Brown. The hit was a beat late but Daley did just release the puck. The hostile encounter with Roussel just after the hit on Daley could have been called roughing, but the ref opted to go with the hit on Daley. The Sharks killed that penalty too.
The Sharks finally got a power play when Shawn Horcoff went to the box for holding the stick at 14:21. The power play generated some good chances but did not change the score.
The Sharks went back on the penalty kill with just 2:50 left in the period. Barclay Goodrow was in the box for elbowing Tyler Seguin. While everyone was mulling over that call, the Stars scored. They had some help from a couple of Sharks skaters who crowded their own goalie and did not help him out. Patrick Eaves had a clear shot at the net, though Logan Couture did try to impeded him from behind. Eaves got the goal, with assists going to Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza.
At the end of the first, the score was 2-0 Stars, with the Stars leading on the shot clock 11-9.
The Sharks made it to 6:12 of the second period without taking another penalty or giving up another goal. This time, Joe Pavelski went to the box for hooking. Al Stalock was not happy about the call, since he had just gotten a shoulder to the face from a falling Dallas Star. Perhaps the officials felt the hook caused the fall. In any case, back to the penalty kill went the Sharks.
With 46 seconds left in that penalty, Brent Burns joined Pavelski in the box for slashing. It was a fairly blatant slash, breaking Eaves’ stick.
Logan Couture, Justin Braun, Brenden Dillon and Al Stalock managed to kill 26 seconds of the five on three, but with 20 seconds left, Jamie Benn scored from the faceoff circle. Assists went to Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza.
At 11:29, Shawn Horcoff went to the box for interference. The Sharks power play looked stymied by the Stars’ penalty killers and spent too much time chasing rushes the other way. In the final two seconds of the power play, one of those short handed rushes trapped two Stars in the Sharks’ zone while Chris Tierney went the other way with the puck. He dropped it to Thornton at the Stars’ blue line and charged ahead one on two to add to a screen in front of Jhonas Enroth. Joe Thornton followed him in and shot through the three-man wall to put the Sharks on the board. The assist went to Tierney.
At the end of the second period, the Stars led 3-1 and 20-15 in shots.
Just over four minutes in to the third period, the Sharks showed some life on a delayed penalty, maintaining control of the puck in the Stars’ zone for over 20 seconds before the whistle blew and their power play officially began. They did not score on that power play.
Tommy Wingels went to the box for boarding at 9:15. The highlight of that penalty kill, possibly the second best Sharks play of the game, was a short-handed breakaway by Barclay Goodrow and Chris Tierney. They didn’t score but they looked very dangerous.
Their efforts did not go unnoticed. A shift from the Thornton line followed and they looked rejuvenated. That was not enough to change the course of the game, but it did help slow the Stars down.
The Sharks held the Stars scoreless for 15:08 of the period. With 4:52 left in the game, Patrick Eaves evaded Brenden Dillon along the boards in the Sharks zone. He was clear just long enough to get a pass to Jamie Benn, who was loitering below the faceoff circle. 4-1 Stars.
With the three-goal lead, Ryan Garbutt decided it would be a good idea to elbow Matt Irwin in the neck as the Sharks defenseman skated into the Dallas zone. The Sharks power play did not score.
Ryan Garbutt did score at 18:00, on a breakaway with a backhand.
The Stars took another penalty with 37.3 seconds left in regulation. Shawn Horcoff went to the box for the third time, this time for goaltender interference.
Final score 5-1 Dallas. Shots 25-24 Dallas.
Matt Irwin led the Sharks in shots with six. Mike Brown and Tommy Wingels led the team in hits with four each. Karl Stollery and Brenden Dillon led in blocked shots with four each. Al Stalock made 20 saves on 25 shots.
Jason Spezza and Jamie Benn led the Stars in shots with four each. Antoine Roussel led the Stars in hits with three. Jyrki Jokipakka led in blocked shots with four. Jhonas Enroth made 23 saves for the win.
The Sharks next play in Edmonton on Thursday at 6:30 PT.