- Mark Stepneski, ESPNDallas.com
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The Dallas Stars have had a lot of success in San Jose over the years, but not on Thursday night. And it was a night in which they really needed some success. The Stars missed another chance to gain ground in the playoff race, losing 6-0 to San Jose Sharks.
The Stars are three points behind eighth-place Chicago and both teams have six games remaining. The Stars trail seventh place Anaheim by six points (with one game in hand).
"[Thursday’s game] was a bit of a mess, but we still live to fight another day,” Stars captain Brenden Morrow said. “We play in a couple of days and these are the big ones, Los Angeles and Anaheim. We’re running out of games. We’ve been saying we’ve got games, we’ve got points but we’re running out of them. It’s starting to be do or die.”
The Stars didn’t “do” on Thursday. The Sharks outshot the Stars 52-29 and chased Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen early in the third period after making it a 4-0 game.
“They were the better team out there,” said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas. “It was as simple as that.”
The Stars started strong in the game, playing a fast-paced and fairly even first period with the Sharks. San Jose scored late in the period when Dan Boyle knocked home the rebound of a Joe Pavelski spinning backhand shot off the rush.
The Sharks ramped it up in the second period, getting a power play goal from Logan Couture early in the period and then a Marc-Edouard Vlasic late the period to make it 3-0. In between those two goals the Stars had three power play chances and opportunity to cut into the lead, but couldn't take advantage.
A Patrick Marleau goal off the rush early in third ended the night for Lehtonen, who allowed four goals on 33 shots. Andrew Raycroft played the rest of the way, allowing two two goals – to Marleau and Ben Eager on 19 shots.
“The first period had lots of battle in it, but it seemed we were unable to match them in the second and third,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said. “They looked like a lot fresher club than we did. That’s no excuse for us. We got beat. We got beat soundly tonight. They were full points for the win. We’ve just got to be more determined than we showed tonight. It’s not good enough. We know it’s not good enough. The consolation is we live to fight another day and on the other side of it, it was the whole group that wasn’t good enough.”
The Sharks, who improved to 24-4-4 over their last 32 games, clinched a playoff spot and moved into second place in the Western Conference.
"I like where our team is at right now with the pressure we've had to play with the last two months," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We've never had the opportunity to put it on cruise control and I don't want us to push that button at all. I want us to keep going so when that tournament does start, we're at the top of our game and not trying to find it."