The San Jose Sharks fell to the Dallas Stars 4-2 on Saturday afternoon and blew their third chance to clinch a playoff berth at home this week.
Goalie Martin Jones made his start against the Stars after James Reimer played Thursday in a 6-3 loss to Edmonton, when San Jose was unable to hold a 2-0 lead.
Goalie Kari Lehtonen has started the past five games for Dallas, but Stars head coach Lindy Ruff has used former Sharks goalie Antti Niemi in the first two games against his former team.
The Stars opened the scoring, as Mattias Janmark tipped in Jordie Benn’s wrist shot past Jones to give his team a 1-0 lead at 15:28 in the first period. Ales Hemsky also helped set up Janmark’s goal, recording his 21st assist in the process.
Despite being down 1-0, San Jose outshot Dallas 12-5 after 20 minutes of play. The first period also featured a fight between Antoine Roussel of Dallas and San Jose’s Tommy Wingels.
The Stars took a 2-0 lead after Janmark scored a 4-on-4 goal 4:22 into the second period for his second goal of the game and 15th goal of the season. Jason Spezza and Stephen Johns picked up the assists.
The Stars struck again, as Patrick Sharp scored on a one-timer, expanding Dallas’ lead 3-0 at 14:19 in the second period. Spezza and John Klingberg made flawless pass to Sharp during the power play.
The Stars led the Sharks 3-0 after 40 minutes of play, despite San Jose outshooting Dallas 23-14.
The Sharks finally got on the board at 3:44 in the third period, on a goal set up by Cody Eakin’s giveaway. Joel Ward put in an unassisted, short-handed goal into the net to reduce the Stars lead 3-1.
Tomas Hertl scored on a second rebound to pull the Sharks to within a goal. Brent Burns made the initial shot and Joe Pavelski found the rebound, but Niemi stopped both shots. However, Hertl buried the rebound for his 19th goal of the season, making it a one-goal game at 5:48.
But the Sharks were unable to complete the comeback.
Jamie Benn fired the puck into an empty net from the neutral zone, putting the Stars up 4-2 with 1:08 left in regulation. Sharp assisted in the execution of the clinching goal late in the third period, giving Dallas a 4-2 victory.
The Sharks’ plans to clinch a playoff berth were halted for the third time this week. Niemi made 34 saves for Dallas. Jones made just 13 saves for San Jose.
The team shared mixed feelings about the Saturday matinee game.
“I think we had the correct response,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. “As a team, we had our chances. We made some key saves. We let go of a couple chances in the first and second period, but I’m not worried. We’ll try to get home ice.”
“We tried our best and now it’s over with,” Sharks forward Tommy Wingels said. “This team sticks up for each other. I thought we battled hard in the third period. The playoffs are coming up and we definitely need to make a push.”
“It was one of those nights where there was a mistake made. You gotta be careful and make sure you keep the puck in perspective. Obviously, I didn’t want to see a result like this, but we’ve won a lot of games this season,” Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said. “They’ve done a good job of challenging us on the entries. . .The power play is important. If you don’t win that initial faceoff, you can’t benefit from potential plays being set up, so that was probably the biggest difference and the reason behind the penalty killers.”
Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi skated in the warmups, but was scratched. He was injured early in the second period against the Oilers on Thursday. As a result, Dainius Zubrus returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch against Edmonton and skated in Donskoi’s spot with Logan Couture and Melker Karlsson.
Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic did not practice Friday because of a lower body injury and did not play Saturday.
Up Next: Sharks host the Los Angeles Kings Monday at 7 pm PT on NBCSN.