Dallas Stars left wing Antoine Roussel (21) and center Radek Faksa (12) celebrate a goal by center Tyler Pitlick (18) on San Jose Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell (30) during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. The Stars won 6-0. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
By: M. Walsh
The San Jose Sharks were roundly defeated by the Dallas Stars 6-0 in their last game of 2017. The Sharks were unable to recover from a sluggish first period, despite having their leading scorer (Logan Couture) back in the lineup after a two week absence.
First period goals came from Stars defenseman John Klingberg and Stars forward Tyler Pitlick.
The first goal came just over six minutes into the game. Alexander Radulov pushed his way past the Sharks defenders on the boards and got the puck to Janmark. Janmark carried it behind the net and passed it up to Klingberg, whose quick shot beat Jones on the far side. Assists went to Janmark and Radulov. The second goal came at 15:07 just after a faceoff in the Sharks zone. Pitlick narrowly avoided losing the puck to Joe Thornton, and then to Melker Karlsson, before beating Jones over the right shoulder with a wrist shot. An assist went to Faksa.
The Stars outshot the Sharks 17-5 in the first period.
Second period goals came from Stephen Johns and Tyler Seguin.
In the second, the shots went the other way with the Sharks up 12-5, but still, the Stars scored twice. The teams were trading penalties during the first five minutes. The Sharks’ Joonas Donskoi and the Stars’ Brett Ritchie were in the box so the teams were playing four on four. The Stars took control after a defensive zone faceoff and moved quickly through the neutral zone. Stephen Johns took a shot from almost the blue line that made its way through traffic and past Jones’s right glove. Janmark and Faksa got the assists.
Near the seven minute mark, Alexander Radulov went into the boards after a not very dangerous-looking push from Justin Braun. He was down for some time before skating off the ice under his own power. He left the ice presumably for evaluation.
The Stars scored on a power play at 9:33, a Klingberg shot redirected by Tyler Seguin.
Third period goals came from Pitlick and Devin Shore. Klingberg, Pitlick, Jamie Benn, and Mattias Janmark each turned in two-point games, while Radek Faksa earned three.
The third period goals came just fifty seconds apart. Devin Shore picked up the puck at the blue line as he raced into the zone and slipped past everyone to get in front of Aaron Dell. He used a late backhand to get around the Sharks’ backup goaltender.
The final goal came after Faksa and Antoine Roussel entered the zone on a brief two on one. The Sharks caught up to them but a rebound snuck out to Pitlick who was trailing the play. He shot it through the mass of players in front of the goal and scored his second of the game. Assists went to Faksa and Roussel.
Joe Pavelski, Justin Braun and Brent Burns each got credit for four shots on goal, with Timo Meier coming in second for the Sharks with three.
Dallas goaltender Ben Bishop made 26 saves for the shutout. For the Sharks, Martin Jones made 18 saves in the first two periods, and Aaron Dell made eight saves in the third.
Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said, of the first period: “We were fighting the puck, it was tough out there early. And they might have done a little of it but a lot of it came from us at the start and just really allowed them to stay in our end. It wasn’t one guy either, it was a group effort out there and we all contributed to that showing.”
Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer dismissed the suggestion that this game was symptomatic of a larger problem with how the team plays on the road: “I don’t look at this like we’ve been a poor road team. This was a poor game tonight. We’ll see, I’d like to think that we can go on the road and play our game, we’ve done it even this year for stretches. So I don’t think it’s a symptom of something bigger, just a bad night.”
The only good news in the game for Sharks fans was Logan Couture’s return to the ice after missing four games to injury. Couture was asked after the game whether he had any doubts while he was recovering:
There’s always doubt and there’s always anxiousness. A lot of times, when you’re going to sleep at night when you’re dealing with this injury, you’re always doubting yourself and you’re always doubting coming back from it. Thinking of the worst just comes with the territory. I think the first shift I got out there and chased the puck around in our own end for about fifty seconds. First period was tough but from there on I felt okay. I didn’t play very well but I felt okay.
The Sharks next play in Montreal against the Canadiens at 4:30 pm PT on Tuesday.