San Jose Sharks
High school sports
San Jose State
Entering Thursday, the combined goal total for Dallas rookies Krys Barch and Joel Lundqvist was one. Then it grew to three, which went a long way in explaining the Sharks' 4-2 loss to the Stars.
Bad karma flowed against the Sharks right from the get-go as Lundqvist scored on the opening shift.
It continued when goalie Evgeni Nabokov tweaked his groin on the second goal and left after the first period. Then Scott Hannan accidentally poked a puck into the Sharks' net while trying to defuse a two-man disadvantage.
But the sequence that typified the Sharks' black-cloud fortunes came early in the third period when the Stars scored a two-on-none break. Barch finished the play for his first NHL goal to make it 4-2.
The uncontested situation shaped up for the Stars after Milan Michalek and Douglas Murray slammed into each other -- rather than Eric Lindros -- in the neutral zone.
``Just a bad decision,'' Coach Ron Wilson said. ``In your heart it's right, but it's not a good decision and it's a two-on-zero.''
In addition to Michalek and Murray falling to the ice, Mark Smith hurt his groin behind the play, headed to the locker room and didn't return.
This helped the Stars sweep the back-to-back matches, gain a 4-2 advantage in the season series and pull to within three points of the Sharks for second place in the Pacific Division.
``When you only have a few guys working and other guys doing other things, you don't get the pressure and you don't get set up,'' said captain Patrick Marleau, whose club-leading 26th goal was wasted. ``Actions right now speak louder than words. We've got to put up on the ice. We know what it takes to win. We just have to get back to it. There's really no excuse for letting these games slide.
``When you give the effort and lose, then you know the difference. But right now it's some guys here and some guys there. When everybody's working and on the same page, we're scary, so that's the way we have to play.''
The Sharks' struggles on the power play continued. They still lead the league but are in a 1-for-32 slump.
``Why all of a sudden we go from great to awful in 48 hours is unbelievable,'' Wilson said.
Dallas won despite being outshot 20-16.
The Sharks fell behind 1-0 after just 44 seconds. Jeff Halpern stripped Marleau in the neutral zone, then advanced the puck to Lundqvist, who ripped a shot from the left dot between Nabokov's pads.
The problem on the play, according to Wilson, wasn't so much the turnover but the absence of support after it occurred.
``We've got some people who are trying to do things,'' Wilson said. ``They think they're doing the right thing, but the decisions they're making are just awful. On the first goal, a defenseman is trying to join the play on the outside, taking off wide.''
Lundqvist was open on the right side of the ice, where defenseman Christian Ehrhoff should have been.
Mark Bell answered less than a minute later for the Sharks -- his first home goal since Oct. 19 against Detroit -- to make it 1-1.
The Stars recaptured the lead at 2-1 on Stu Barnes' goal at 15:16. Dallas had enjoyed two extended possessions in the Sharks' zone, and Barnes capped the sequence by pumping in Halpern's backhand feed across the top of the crease.
The Sharks remained stuck in neutral despite the goalie switch to Vesa Toskala and Murray's getting the better of Barch in a scrap early in the second.
They went the equivalent of more than a period -- the final 15:04 of the first and the first 5:16 of the second -- without landing a shot on goalie Marty Turco.
``The coaches went through it; they're a trapping team,'' Murray said. ``We had plays to break the trap. But we didn't make plays.''