SAN JOSE – For years, the Sharks have prided themselves on making their home arena a difficult place to play.
It hasn’t been that way nearly enough this season, and after dropping a 5-2 decision to the New Jersey Devils on Monday night, the Sharks have lost as many games as they’ve won at SAP Center (11-8-3). They are 1-4-1 here in their last six.
Further, they have already lost more games in regulation at home than they did all of last season, when they had the Western Conference’s best home mark (29-7-5).
The Sharks trailed 2-1 entering the second period, but tied it at the four-minute mark. Brent Burns started the rush up the ice with a pass to Tomas Hertl at the blue line and drove the net, allowing Tyler Kennedy to feed Matt Nieto with a pass through the slot for a one-timer. Nieto’s goal was his first in 12 games.
New Jersey re-claimed the lead for good on the power play later in the middle frame, though. Burns was called for hitting the Devils’ Tim Sestito with a check to the head – his third minor of the game – and New Jersey capitalized when a Mike Cammalleri shot attempt deflected off a body in front at 14:45 for the game-winner.
San Jose had a pair of power plays in the third period with a chance to tie it, but couldn’t convert. Joe Thornton had the best opportunity at the side of the net, but Cory Schneider sealed the net with his left pad and denied the former Sharks captain with 10:58 to go.
The Devils put it away shortly after that, when Travis Zajac swiped in an Adam Larsson rebound on a play that began with former Sharks forward Marty Havlat skating the puck into the zone and handing it off to an open Larsson.
A Jacob Josefson shorthanded goal after a bad pinch by Hertl capped the scoring at 14:32.
San Jose fell to 1-1-1 on its season-long seven-game homestand, and saw a four-game winning streak against New Jersey halted.
After looking lost for the first several minutes of their 4-3 overtime defeat to Calgary on Saturday, the Sharks got the start they were looking for.
Joe Pavelski forced Scott Gomez into a turnover in San Jose’s offensive zone, and found open ice before flinging in a pass from Thornton at 3:59.
The Devils took control of the opening frame from there, though, thanks to some downright soft defense by San Jose.
First, Jordin Tootoo was allowed to camp out in front of the net in tying it up. The fourth-liner was allowed three whacks at a rebound in the slot, eventually getting one through Alex Stalock at 15:29.
Less than a minute later, Brenden Dillon turned it over to Gomez behind the Sharks net. Gomez found Steve Bernier at 16:04 for an easy marker, giving the Devils their first lead of the night.
New Jersey outshot the Sharks 17-8 in the first period, and held a 29-18 edge after two.
Justin Braun left the game in the second period after blocking a shot by Cammalleri, and did not return.
The Sharks finished 0-for-4 on the power play, despite generating 10 shots on goal.
New Jersey was 1-for-3, ending the Sharks’ 11-for-11 streak on the penalty kill over the previous four games.
The Sharks have allowed five shorthanded goals this season, including one each in the last two games.
Stalock started for just the third time in the last 16 games. He allowed five goals on 34 shots, the most goals he’s even given up in a game, in falling to 5-5-1.
Schneider made his league-leading 41st start in net, and improved to 4-5-1 in his career vs. San Jose. He made 34 saves.
Andrew Desjardins drew back in on the fourth line, after sitting for the previous three. Barclay Goodrow was a healthy scratch for the first time in 20 games.
Matt Tennyson came back out on defense, the second time in four games he’s sat.
Among the notables not playing for New Jersey were Ryane Clowe (concussion) and Jaromir Jagr (illness).
The Sharks will play their final game before the All-Star break on Wednesday, as they host the Los Angeles Kings. It will be the final meeting between the teams, who have split their first two games, until Feb. 21 at Levi’s Stadium.
San Jose hosts the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, Jan. 29 in the first game after the break.