DALLAS – The Sharks allowed multiple power play goals for just the third time this season, and the Dallas Stars gave San Jose its ninth loss in the last 10 games, 3-1 on Saturday night at American Airlines Center.
San Jose finished its six-game road swing with a 1-4-1 record. Since starting the season 7-0-0, the offensively inept Sharks are just 1-6-3.
[KURZ: Sharks' dreadful road trip ends in Dallas]
The Stars took a 2-0 lead with an early power play goal in the third period. Tommy Wingels failed to clear the puck from deep in the defensive zone, and Alex Goligoski held it in at the blue line. Goligoski fed Michael Ryder, who skated into the high slot and unleashed a wrist shot past Antti Niemi at the 30-second mark.
The Sharks finally broke through with a power play goal, snapping an 0-for-21 drought over four-plus games. On a two-man advantage, Joe Thornton took the offensive zone draw, after motioning for Patrick Marleau to get closer to the net. It took all of two seconds for Thornton to slide the faceoff to Marleau, who deposited his 12th goal at 2:19.
Thornton was in the middle of what appeared to be, and arguably should have counted as the tying goal. The captain went crashing into goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp who came out of the crease to his right to stop Thornton, while the puck came to a stop just outside of the post. Logan Couture came swooping in and pushed it past the line, but it was immediately waived off and Thornton was issued a goaltender interference penalty at 9:07.
San Jose went back to the power play ate after a scary collision behind the net between Wingels and Philip Larsen, with Larsen earning a boarding minor at 15:01. The Sharks failed to get anything towards the net, though, and the Stars put the game away with a Jamie Benn goal at 17:49.
The only goal through two periods came courtesy of Jaromir Jagr on the power play. The 41-year-old got in front of the net to redirect a pass by Benn past Niemi with less than a minute to go before the second intermission.
The Sharks lost Brent Burns early in the first period. The defenseman appeared to suffer a left leg injury after a hit by Dallas winger Antoine Roussel about five minutes into the game, and did not return.
There was another injury scare in the second, when Couture went down in a heap in the defensive zone. The winger was barely able to limp off the ice, and was visibly in pain on the bench for several minutes, but remained in the game.
There wasn’t much action in the second period, but that changed when Thornton and Benn staged a prolonged fight at 8:21. The pair exchanged a few stick jabs before dropping their gloves and removing their helmets. Benn got in a good early jab and each player threw a good amount of haymakers before the linesmen broke it up.
Dallas had the best chance to score in the first period on a five-on-three advantage for more than a minute on penalties to Marleau (tripping) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (delay of game). The Sharks’ penalty kill was up to the task, though, as Niemi stopped attempts by Derek Roy and Michael Ryder, while Douglas Murray and Michael Handzus blocked shots.
Marleau’s power play goal snapped an 0-for-21 streak for the Sharks’ power play, which hadn’t scored since late in the game against Columbus on Feb. 11.
Entering the game, the Sharks were just 2-for-46 on the power play in the last 11 games. They finished just 1-for-7 against Dallas.
Conversely, the Sharks’ penalty kill entered the night 47-for-50 in the last 13 games. San Jose gave up multiple power play goals for just the third time all season.
Cristopher Nilstorp earned his first win in the NHL with 31 saves. Niemi lost for the second consecutive night, surrending three goals on 28 Stars shots.
Ryane Clowe was suspended after coming off of the bench to go after Chicago’s Andrew Shaw on Friday night. Clowe has a hearing with the NHL on Monday, and it’s possible his suspension will last multiple games.
The Stars lost defenseman Aaron Rome in the first period, so both teams were down a player on their blue line for most of the game.
The Sharks begin a three-game homestand on Tuesday against Colorado. The Red Wings visit on Thursday, and the Nashville Predators make an appearance on Saturday. All three games begin at 7:30 p.m.