It's over. Officially, mathematically, definitively, finally over. After qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs for ten consecutive postseasons, the second-longest active playoff appearance streak in the NHL, the Sharks will assuredly not return for an eleventh, a fact that was determined less than three minutes into their game against the Dallas Stars tonight thanks to Winnipeg's victory over Minnesota on the out-of-town scoreboard.
At that point, the Sharks were already trailing Dallas 1-0 on a Colton Sceviour rebound goal and it only got worse from there courtesy power play tallies from Patrick Eaves and Jamie Benn.
In the last hockey game that will be played at SAP Center until September, the Sharks ended up dropping a 5-1 decision to the Stars in a contest that, following some fireworks soon after the opening faceoff, was about as uneventful and emotionless as you'd expect from a game between two teams that learned minutes in their postseason dreams were truly dead. Joe Thornton briefly made things somewhat interesting with a slapshot goal at the end of a second period power play but San Jose was unable to build on it and eventually ceded a second Benn goal late in the third as Dallas sealed a victory.
After the Sharks choked up a 3-0 series lead to Los Angeles last spring, GM Doug Wilson wanted to ensure nothing like that would ever happen again. Mission accomplished, at least for the time being, as the Sharks certainly won't blow an insurmountable lead in the playoffs this year.
- A well-deserved "fire Wilson" chant reportedly broke out in section 209 tonight. Vocal fan outrage during one of the Canucks' final home games of the 2013-14 season led to Mike Gillis getting canned; we'll see if there's any response here from Sharks ownership. There probably won't be.
- With the win, the Stars overtake the Sharks in the standings meaning San Jose drops to 20th overall. If they finish the season there they'll have a 3% chance to win the Connor McDavid lottery. They could realistically drop as low as 22nd for a 5% shot.
- The penalty kill has been a somewhat overlooked, but extremely significant, factor in why the Sharks won't be playing hockey after Saturday and it reared its ugly head once again tonight as Dallas scored twice and launched nine shots on net with the man advantage.
- Hard to pin this loss primarily on Stalock by any means but he didn't look great on either of the first two goals and now has a .902 SV% on the season, which is a hell of a lot closer to his career AHL numbers than last season's outlier stats. If the Sharks go into next season with Stalock penciled in as their starter, or possibly even one-half of a platoon tandem, they're probably going to have a tough time making the playoffs again.
- Bizarre situation before the game as 29-year-old career minor leaguer and Worcester Sharks captain Bryan Lerg was recalled from the AHL and slated to play his first NHL game with Tomas Hertl sick. Hertl ended up feeling well enough by game time to play...so Lerg was a healthy scratch. Would it have really killed the team to put the guy in the lineup over Mike Brown in a meaningless game? Hopefully Lerg gets to play in Edmonton.
FTF Three Stars
1st Star: Jamie Benn
2nd Star: Jhonas Enroth
3rd Star: Jason Spezza