SAN JOSE – The Sharks were officially eliminated from the playoffs just a few minutes into their game on Monday night with Dallas, and judging by their performance against the Stars and Coyotes on Saturday, it’s easy to see why there will be no postseason hockey in the Bay Area for the first time since 2002-03.
The Stars, also a non-playoff team, outclassed the Sharks in cruising to a 5-1 win at SAP Center. It was San Jose’s second straight loss, including a 5-3 defeat to the lowly Coyotes two nights earlier.
The Sharks finished with just a 19-17-5 record at SAP Center, one season after posting the best home record in the Western Conference.
Dallas took an early lead it would not relinquish. Jason Demers’ shot rebounded right to the tape of Colton Sceviour, who was all alone and easily flipped in his ninth goal just 28 seconds after the faceoff.
That lead increased at 17:32 on the first of two power play goals by the Stars as a puck deflected in off of Patrick Eaves, who was battling for position in the crease.
A five-on-three marker made it 3-0 at 7:53 of the second period, with Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns off on minor penalties. The puck was worked around to Jamie Benn, who easily converted.
The Sharks got one back on the power play with Joe Thornton’s second goal in as many games. The veteran center blasted a slap shot through Jhonas Enroth at 13:27 of the middle frame, but that was all they would get past the goaltender, who was acquired from Buffalo earlier this season.
Benn got another, his 32nd of the year, to put it away at 15:08 of the third. Stalock tried playing the puck up the wall, but Tyler Seguin intercepted it and found Benn alone in front for an easy tap-in.
Ryan Garbutt’s breakaway goal after stepping out of the penalty box at the 18-minute mark capped the scoring.
The Sharks saw a four-game winning streak against Dallas conclude, and lost for the first time in regulation against the Stars in San Jose in the last nine (7-1-1).
Prior to the game, the Sharks handed out their annual awards. Pavelski was named team MVP while Melker Karlsson was the Rookie of the Year, as voted by the local media. Pavelski also took home the fan favorite award.
Dallas went 2-for-6 on the power play, while the Sharks were 1-for-5.
The Sharks have allowed at least one power play goal against in five of their last six games, as the penalty kill continued it’s season-long struggle. In the last 12 games, the Sharks are just 21-for-32 on the PK (65.6 percent).
Thornton’s power play goal was his fourth of the season.
Stalock started for the fourth time in the last six games, and allowed five goals on 25 shots in losing to the Stars for the first time in his career (3-1-0). Prior to Monday, Stalock started three straight before giving way to Antti Niemi in both games against the Coyotes.
Enroth is a perfect 3-0-0 in his career vs. San Jose, and stopped 23 shots.
Other than the starting goaltender, the Sharks made no lineup changes.
Curiously, recent call-up Bryan Lerg was scratched after every indication earlier in the day was that the 29-year-old would make his NHL debut. Tomas Hertl, who was sick and missed the morning skate, managed to suit up.
The Sharks close out their season with games in Edmonton on Thursday and Los Angeles on Saturday. They are 20-15-4 on the road.