SAN JOSE – The satisfaction of recording 13 out of a possible 14 points on their longest homestand of the season wasn’t enough to outweigh the Sharks’ disgust with blowing a pair of two-goal leads to the rebuilding Dallas Stars on Sunday afternoon at HP Pavilion.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Stars top Sharks in shootout]
San Jose saw leads of 2-0 and 4-2 disappear in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Stars, who are a long shot to make it to the postseason after dealing Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy and captain Brenden Morrow before the trade deadline. It was just the third loss for the Sharks when they led after two periods (13-1-2), and Dallas’ second win when trailing after 40 minutes (2-12-0).
The Sharks’ seven-game winning streak is over, too, and now they’ll embark on a four-game road trip, where they have struggled mightily.
“Pretty disappointed,” Tommy Wingels said of the game. “We’re happy with the homestand as a whole, but you’re only as good as your latest performance. There are things we need to clean up, and move on.”
The defensive zone play was particularly troubling, after it had been so good in recent weeks. San Jose allowed 34 shots on goal, the most it had given up since March 14 against the Kings. The Stars had the territorial advantage in the final two periods, and were rewarded when goals by Alex Chiasson and Loui Erriksson tied the game at 4-4. After a scoreless overtime, Jamie Benn was the only player to convert in the shootout.
“I didn’t like our game, basically, the whole night,” Todd McLellan said. “A lot of mistakes, and we didn’t really look very quick.”
Joe Pavelski said: “We definitely let a point slip away. We score four goals, that’s good, but we give up way too many with too many chances. ... We give up two quick ones to let it get to even, take the lead again, and then it’s the same sort of thing. Guys aren’t happy with that.”
The Sharks remain in fifth place in the Western Conference with 47 points (20-11-7). The Los Angeles Kings own the tiebreaker by virtue of 21 regulation/overtime wins, while the Sharks have just 14.
In their last 10 games, the Sharks will face the Stars twice more, including again in Dallas in less than a week. The win puts the Stars in 10th place in the West, four points out of a playoff spot.
“They’re going to play hard and have got a lot of young kids up, and they’re going to work,” Pavelski said. “That’s the biggest thing. We’ve got to work. We knew that coming in and did that at times, but consistently we didn’t do that enough.”
Bad feelings aside, the Sharks can only view the homestand as a resounding success. When it began, they sat in eighth place in the conference, and the team’s record over the previous seven weeks was an appalling 7-11-6. Now, it’s hard to imagine the Sharks missing the postseason, as they are seven points ahead of ninth-place Phoenix.
The challenge now will be taking it on the road. San Jose is a league-best 14-1-5 on its home ice, but just 6-10-2 in the road whites. Six of the Sharks’ final 10 games are away.
“It was a good homestand, I like to look at the positives,” Joe Thornton said. “Now, we’ve got to go win some games on the road. All-in-all, we needed to win some games at home, and we did.”
Pavelski said: “There’s been a certain way we’ve played since we’ve been home, and it’s been a fairly simple game. On the road, that’s one of the things you focus on, is keeping it simple and keeping the crowd out of it and don’t kill yourself with turnovers. We did that pretty well while we were at home, so let’s try and take that formula on the road.”
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There’s a chance Pavelski could be hearing from the NHL league office in regards to a play in the first period.
Vern Fiddler cross-checked the Sharks’ center in the lower back in the first minute of the game, flattening Pavelski. It took Pavelski a moment to get back to his skates, at which time he swung his stick and made solid contact with Fiddler’s face. He received just a minor penalty, even though it might be viewed as a retaliatory strike.
“Obviously, I’m not trying to do that,” Pavelski said. “It’s unfortunate it gets up there, and you’ve got to move on. I was more trying to be engaged in battle after the cross-check. Obviously, it’s an errant stick, and I’ve got to watch that a little better.”
Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic was recently fined, but not suspended, for his slash of Minnesota’s Dany Heatley in the closing seconds of a 4-2 Sharks win on April 3.