The Dallas Stars got off to a good start Sunday night in San Jose, but couldn’t take advantage of it and lost, 5-1, to the Sharks at SAP Center. The loss snapped a two-game road winning streak for the Stars, who fell for the seventh time in their last nine games away from home.
“They worked harder than us and obviously wanted it more,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “That showed on the scoreboard.”
The Stars rolled out a strong first period, controlling play for most of it, but found themselves down 2-1 after 20 minutes due to some excellent work by Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell at one end of the ice and the Sharks capitalizing on some great chances at the other end.
“You don’t put the puck in the net, and then you make a couple of mistakes that end up in the back of your net,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff.
After that, the Sharks controlled the rest of the game and tacked on three more goals. The Stars allowed their 11th shorthanded goal, most in the league this season. And the five goals against pushed their season total to 220, tied with Colorado for most in the league.
“It’s embarrassing,” Benn said. “It’s hard to put into words. If you are going to play like that and have those numbers, you are not going to get too far.”
“[The numbers] are just starting to pile up,” said Ruff. “You start to replace some of the veteran guys with the younger guys going in. I’ve got a job to do with the young D. I’ve got to get them to a better place. That is my responsibility. They are struggling in some areas, and I’ve got to show some patience. They can’t be scared to play, and at the same time they’ve got to grow.”
The Sharks chased Dallas starting goaltender Kari Lehtonen, from the game after scoring on three of their first eight shots. It was a league-leading 12th time this season the Stars have used two goaltenders in a game.
“It wasn’t the goals. I didn’t like the play where he could have stopped the puck behind the net,” Ruff said of pulling Lehtonen. “I want every play to mean something. It wasn’t his fault on the goals. The goals were point-blank, but every play means something in the game.”
Antti Niemi, who took over early in the second period, stopped 16 of 18 shots.
Remi Elie scored the lone goal for the Stars. It was Elie’s first NHL goal for the Stars, who fell to 27-31-10 on the season.
Joe Pavelski scored two goals, and Dell stopped 29 of 30 shots for the Sharks, who improved to 8-2-2 over their past 12 games.
“It took us a little bit to get going,” Pavelski said. “The first period we kind of hung in there and [Dell] made some big saves and kept it to the outside. We got a couple of goals out of it, too. The second period is where our game took off.”
The Stars had a 15-6 shots advantage in the first period but trailed 2-1 after 20 minutes. The Sharks opened the scoring at the 3:56 mark. Logan Couture pulled the puck free behind the Dallas net and set up Patrick Marleau, who scored from the bottom of the right circle to put the Sharks up 1-0. Dell kept it a 1-0 game with a big save on a good chance by Stars forward Ales Hemsky.
The Stars tied the game 1-1 at 12:54 of the first when Elie took a pass from Hemsky, drove the net and then scored on the rebound of his own shot for his first NHL goal. The Stars had a chance to take the lead, but Dell turned away a quality chance by Benn.
The Sharks took the lead late in the first when Pavelski scored from the bottom of the right circle with the Sharks on a two-on-one rush, making it a 2-1 game at the 17:14 mark.
The Sharks added two more goals in the second. Couture set up a wide open Joel Ward, who scored from the slot 2:46 into the period to make it a 3-1 game. That ended the night for Lehtonen, who was replaced by Niemi.
The Sharks extended the lead to 4-1 with a shorthanded goal. After Stars defenseman Esa Lindell fanned on a shot at the point, Pavelski jumped on the puck, broke in alone on goal and beat Niemi with a wrist shot at the 12:26 mark.
San Jose’s Chris Tierney scored 3:04 into the third period to make it a 5-1 game, and that’s the way it stayed.
*The Stars fell to 9-19-4 on the road this season.
*The Stars outshot the Sharks 30-26 and had a 62-47 advantage in shot attempts.
*Patrick Sharp led the Stars with four shots on goal. Esa Lindell, Brett Ritchie, Adam Cracknell, and Ales Hemsky all had six shot attempts.
*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and 5-5 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 29 of 53 faceoffs (55 percent). Jason Spezza won seven of eight faceoffs.
*Esa Lindell led the Stars with 23:11 of ice time.
The Stars continue their four-game trip when they play at Edmonton on Tuesday. This will be the third and final meeting of the season between the Stars and Oilers. Both teams have won once in the season series. The Stars won 3-2 in Edmonton on Nov. 11, and the Oilers won 5-2 in Dallas on Nov. 19.
Jamie Benn – Jason Spezza – Tyler Seguin
Devin Shore – Radek Faksa – Patrick Sharp
Remi Elie – Cody Eakin – Ales Hemsky
Curtis McKenzie – Adam Cracknell – Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell – John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis – Stephen Johns
Jamie Oleksiak – Greg Pateryn
Scratched: Jiri Hudler, Patrik Nemeth
Injured: Antoine Roussel (hand), Mattias Janmark (knee)