The Sharks will have to wait a little bit longer to clinch a playoff berth following this afternoon’s 4–2 loss to the Dallas Stars. The offense had its share of opportunities in the first and second periods, but couldn’t get any pucks past former Shark Antti Niemi until the third. Goals by Joel Ward and Tomas Hertl weren't enough to erase a 3–0 deficit as San Jose lost its third straight game in regulation.
Despite outshooting and outchancing the Stars by a wide margin in an animosity-filled first period, the Sharks found themselves in a 1–0 hole when the buzzer sounded. Stars agitator Antoine Roussel was front and center as both teams showed their ire, drawing a roughing penalty on Brenden Dillon and taking one for slashing Micheal Haley after being hit in quick succession by Roman Polak and Tommy Wingels.
Dallas picked up the only goal of the first with Roussel and Wingels in the box for fighting when Jordie Benn shot a puck from the blue line that deflected off Mattias Janmark and past Martin Jones. Jones stopped Patrick Sharp on a breakaway in the final seconds of the period to keep the deficit at one after one, before Janmark made it 2–0 four and a half minutes into the second. Sharp made it 3–0 ten minutes later with Joe Pavelski in the penalty box for boarding Johnny Oduya.
Ward finally got the Sharks on the board with a shorthanded goal 3:44 into the third period. With Dylan DeMelo is the box for slashing and Niemi out of position, Cody Eakin turned the puck over to Ward, who dumped it right into the empty net for one of the easiest goals he'll ever score.
Hertl cut the deficit to one two minutes after Ward's goal, knocking Pavelski's rebound past Niemi to make it a 3–2 game.
A pair of Stars penalties gave the Sharks two opportunities to tie the game on the power play, but they couldn't convert on either one despite a seemingly endless series of shots at Niemi. With Jones on the bench for the final minute and a half, Jamie Benn scored into the empty net to ice the game for Dallas.
Losing three in a row with a chance to clinch is frustrating, but there’s still no reason to panic in San Jose. It’s only a matter of time before Team Teal's return to postseason play is official—as soon as tonight if the Coyotes lose in regulation. Go Flyers.
Sharks goals (assists): Joel Ward (unassisted), Tomas Hertl (Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns)
Fear the Fin's 3 Stars
1) Antti Niemi
2) Mattias Janmark
3) Patrick Sharp