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Poor play could prompt moves
SJ drops back-to-back regulation losses for 1st time this season
3/3/09 - By Mike Lee

Last week, Sharks GM Doug Wilson publicly affirmed that he is content with his current roster. He may want to rethink that position after Tuesday night’s performance against the Dallas Stars. With the NHL trade deadline less than 24 hours away, the Sharks sputtered to a 4-1 loss to the visiting Stars at HP Pavilion. It was also the first time the Sharks lost back-to-back games in regulation all season.

Dallas leaned on the physical play that helped them knock off the Sharks in the playoffs last season, and the results were eerily familiar. San Jose got caught up in the shenanigans, and fell behind early. That trend, along with surrendering power play goals continued, and for the ninth time in their past fifteen games.

"We worked on our defenses and coverage in practice yesterday," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "Some of the mistakes we made tonight were directly addressed. Either we did a very poor job as coaches addressing them, or we didn't pick up on some of the cues that we need to. We'll go back to the drawing board and try a different approach as coaches and make sure they get the message."

Recently called up farm hand Brad Staubitz and Stars winger Krys Barch tried to energize their respective teams by dropping the gloves 5 minutes into the contest. The motivation leaned in favor of the Stars, who converted a minute later when James Neal tapped in a deflection for the early 1-0 Stars lead. Sharks netminder Brian Boucher made the initial save on centerman Brian Sutherby’s wraparound attempt, but the puck slipped through the crease to Neal on the weak side.

Niklas Grossman was sent off for hauling down Patrick Marleau at 7:49 and the Sharks would capitalize. Joe Thornton deflected in his 19th goal of the season after Christian Ehrhoff sent a shot in from the left dot. Thornton was parked at the top of the crease, and easily redirected the shot past Marty Turco.

Joe Pavelski and Mike Ribiero would mix it up with 6 minutes to play in the period, after the Sharks centerman hooked his opponent. The play would end with sticks flying and both players earning 4 minutes worth of penalties. Ribiero would catch Pavelski with his stick earning a high sticking double minor.

Things got testy at the end of the period after a play in front of the Stars net. Two Stars defenders smothered Ryane Clowe as he went to the net, and a flurry of bodies piled up in the vicinity. Somewhere in the melee, Pavelski was whistled for head butting a Dallas player and was tossed with a match penalty for intent to injure Darryl Sydor. Sydor would earn two minutes on the play for roughing, resulting in a 3 minute power play which would take affect in the 2nd period.

Replays showed that Pavelski never touched Sydor, but replays don’t overturn match penalties in the NHL, so the Sharks were forced to play without their centerman for the remainder of the game.

The two teams would combine for 41 minutes in penalties in that opening period.

Rob Blake would take a cross checking penalty during the Stars carryover power play, giving the Stars a full 2-minute 5-on-3. San Jose almost escaped, but Mike Modano scored with 3 seconds remaining on Blake’s penalty. The goal broke an 0-for-30 Stars drought on the power play against the Sharks.

McLellan stressed the importance of Pavelski's ejection after teh game.

"It made a huge impact on our team," said McLellan. "He's perhaps been our best player over the past few games, a penalty killer, he anchors a power play - when you lose him you have to have people pick up their game a little more, and that didn't happen tonight."

San Jose did little to generate many offensive chances, the remainder of the period.

Sutherby would make it a 3-1 game on a simple case of one line out-working another. With the Sharks chasing their tails in their own end, Matt Niskanen, Fabian Brunnstrom and Sutherby worked the forecheck to create a turnover in the Sharks zone, then put one past Boucher while three Sharks stood and watched.

"Two games in a week we've played against that team that we've played very well, Stars head coach Dave Tippett said. "We didn't get rewarded for our work in the first game but I thought we got rewarded for it tonight. We created a lot of chances and capitalized on those chances, we defended hard when we had to, and Marty Turco made some great saves when he had to. We competed really, really hard and that's the way it's going to have to be if we're going to be successful. We did that tonight and found a way to win."

Neal added the back breaker with a rifle shot from the top of the right circle less than 2 minutes later. A neutral zone turnover turned into Mike Modano racing up the left wing, before sliding a pass to Neal for the rookies 20th goal of the season.

"We needed to get rewarded for some hard work," Tippett added. "We've played some very good games, over that five-game losing streak. I thought three games we had a real good chance to win, a couple of them we didn't play very well, but we needed something to give us that jolt of energy that our work would be compensated, and the win is a good compensation for that."

Game Notes:

The Sharks announced on Tuesday that Jeremy Roenick suffered a shoulder injury and will be out until the playoffs. Mike Grier also underwent knee surgery on Tuesday and will also miss the remainder of the the regular season. Claude Lemieux was a coaches decision scratch.


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1 2 3 T
DAL 1 1 2 4
SJ 1 0 0 1
1st period - 1, DAL, Neal 19 (Sutherby, Brunnstrom), 6:35. 2, SJ, Thornton 17 (Ehrhoff, Setoguchi), 9:07, (pp).
2nd period - 3, DAL, Modano 15 (Ribeiro, Turco), 4:24.
3rd period - 4, DAL, Sutherby 8 (Brunnstrom, Niskanen), 6:32. 5, DAL, Neal 20 (Modano, Eriksson), 7:55.
1st period - Staubitz, SJ (holding), 2:57; Barch, DAL (fighting major), 5:20; Staubitz, SJ (fighting major), 5:20; Grossman, DAL (holding), 7:49; Ribeiro, DAL (high sticking – double minor), 14:08; Pavelski, SJ (hooking), 14:08; Pavelski, SJ (high sticking), 14:08; Plihal, SJ (holding), 14:33; Sydor, DAL (roughing), 19:51; Pavelski, SJ (intent to injure), 19:51; Pavelski, SJ (10 min major), 19:51.
2nd period - Blake, SJ (cross checking), 2:27; Grossman, DAL (cross checking) 6:05; Shelley, SJ (unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:14; Niskanen, DAL (holding), 18:36.
3rd period - Parrish, DAL (high sticking), 9:15; Grossman, DAL (high sticking), 16:27; Boyle, SJ (cross checking), 16:40.
Shots Saves
DAL - Turco 25 24
SJ - Boucher 31 27
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
DAL 13 10 8 31
SJ 5 9 11 25
Power Play Conversion
DAL 1 of 6
SJ 1 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
James Neal
Brian Sutherby
Fabian Brunnstrom
Referees: St Pierre, Sutherland. Linesmen: Cameron, Cvik.

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