SAN JOSE – Just one season ago, the Sharks had the best home record in the Western Conference.
On Saturday against Ottawa, San Jose lost its eighth straight game at SAP Center for the first time in nearly 20 years. A 4-2 Senators win meant the Sharks didn’t prevail in a single game at home during the month of February (0-6-2).
For the second straight game, the Sharks blew a lead after two periods.
A series of soft plays allowed Ottawa to tie it. Melker Karlsson’s neutral zone turnover preceded an Ottawa rush, and Kyle Turris put a soft wrist shot on net. Antti Niemi couldn’t handle it, and Mark Stone got position on Scott Hannan before slipping it through at 3:52 of the third period.
The game-winner came on the power play 7:59, when Mike Hoffman found a rebound off the end boards with Brenden Dillon off on a trip.
Hoffman added an empty net goal at 18:50 to put it away. He leads the Senators with 23.
The Sharks have lost five of their last six games (1-5-0), and are 3-8-2 in their last 13. The last time they lost eight straight games at home was on Feb. 18 – March 26, 1995.
Ottawa won its fifth straight game, and is 7-1-1 in its last nine.
The Sharks got the early lead. Matt Irwin made a move around Alex Chiasson at the point, and pushed the puck towards the crease. Tommy Wingels shoved his way around the blue paint and swiped in the loose puck at 2:27.
San Jose registered seven of the first eight shots on goal, but were outshot for the game, 31-30.
The teams traded power play goals in the second. Brent Burns was called for his team-leading 26th minor penalty, interfering with Colin Greening. Ottawa took advantage when Turris’ blast hit the end boards but ended up on Erik Karlsson’s stick. The Sens’ defenseman found Niemi’s five-hole at 7:29.
Greening was called for a penalty himself later in the second, though, and the Sharks made him pay for boarding Wingels. Burns’ wrist shot deflected off of Joe Pavelski on its way towards goalie Andrew Hammond, and Patrick Marleau was there to pop in the rebound at 13:19.
An unforced Burns turnover late in the second resulted in sustained pressure by the Senators for the final minute of the second, but the Senators couldn’t find the equalizer before the break despite four shot attempts and heavy traffic around the crease.
The Sharks’ forward lines were altered again for the game, as Tomas Hertl started on the Joe Thornton line for the first time since Dec. 31 in Anaheim. Karlsson played on the second line with Marleau and Logan Couture.
San Jose dressed in its Stadium Series sweaters, which will be worn once more this season on March 14 vs. Chicago.
San Jose and Ottawa meet again on March 23 at Canadian Tire Center.
The Sharks allowed at least one power play goal for the eighth time in the last 10 games. Ottawa finished 2-for-3, and the Sharks’ penalty killers are just 18 for their last 27 (66.7 percent).
San Jose was 1-for-2 with a man advantage, and 5-for-25 in its last 10 games (20 percent).
After posting back-to-back shutouts in Anaheim and Los Angeles, Hammond improved to 5-0 in the NHL with 28 saves.
Niemi took the loss, allowing three goals on 30 shots. He made his 10th start in the last 11 games.
Tye McGinn came off of injured reserve, playing for the first time since incurring an upper body injury on Jan. 31. To make room for McGinn, Chris Tierney was reassigned to Worcester.
Andrew Desjardins also drew back in after he sat out as a healthy scratch vs. Detroit, in place of Tyler Kennedy, who had played the previous four straight.
The Sharks will host their third straight Atlantic Division opponent on Monday when the first place Montreal Canadiens visit.