Sharks fall to 13th place in West after loss


SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- About 30 seconds after the opening
faceoff, Kyle McLaren routinely dropped back to clear the puck --
and the blade simply fell off of the San Jose Sharks defenseman's brand-new stick.

The New York Islanders turned the turnover into a quick goal,
setting the tone for a 3-0 win that featured more of the hard work
that's becoming their trademark -- and the inexplicable bad breaks
that seem to follow the Sharks around these days.

Captain Michael Peca scored two goals, and Garth Snow stopped 29 shots for his 15th career shutout as the Islanders got ahead early and methodically maintained their advantage through the final two periods. With Snow's steady work and the Sharks' lackadaisical play, New York got a fairly easy end to a solid four-game road trip.

"It was nice to get a break like that, but we had to earn it
from there,'' Peca said. "We really went out and carried the play,
and when we play like that, we're tough to beat.''

Kenny Jonsson also snapped a 13-game goal-scoring drought for
the surging Islanders, who won for the fourth time in six games.
New York jumped into a tie for sixth place in the Eastern
Conference with Boston and Tampa Bay, who all have 64 points.

Snow's run of outstanding play has kept New York in good shape
during Chris Osgood's 12-game absence with an ankle injury. Snow
hasn't allowed more than two goals in eight starts, and he posted
his first shutout of the season with little significant challenge
from the foundering Sharks, whose effort prompted a postgame tirade
from coach Ron Wilson.

"I'm embarrassed,'' Wilson said. "I might be the most confused
man in North America, maybe the world right now. As soon as they
made it 2-0, we didn't have any fight left, and that's what's so

"Guys (were) getting hit by the other team, and they don't
fight back. If somebody punched me in the head, I'd punch back, I
know that. We're willing to surrender, and I'm embarrassed about
that. I take that personally.''

Peca, who had just nine goals in 43 games this season, scored 36
seconds into the first period when he teamed up with Mark Parrish
on a 2-on-1.

After Jonsson slipped a shot past a screened Evgeni Nabokov
early in the second period, Peca scored again on another 2-on-1,
this time converting Shawn Bates' pass.

"Sometimes it all just snowballs when you're winning,'' Snow
said. "Everybody, top to bottom, felt this was a game we could win
with solid play.''

Nabokov stopped 30 shots, but the Sharks returned home from a
1-6 road trip with another dismal effort in their miserable season.
San Jose officially lost the chance to extend its streak of six
consecutive seasons with improved point totals during the trip, and
the Sharks' playoff hopes get slimmer every day.

Even worse, San Jose didn't put up any discernible fight over
the final two periods as New York steadily attacked and pushed

"I can't explain what happened to my stick, but I just don't
think they won it on that play,'' McLaren said. "We're not working
hard enough, either physically or mentally, to win. Nothing is
going the Sharks' way. We all need to show up. Lately, it hasn't
been that way.''

San Jose has slipped to 13th place in the Western Conference, 12
points behind Edmonton for the eighth playoff spot with 21 games
left. The Sharks have made five straight trips to the postseason,
but the defending Pacific Division champions are in disarray.

Even the Sharks' famously loyal fans are disappointed. The Shark
Tank wasn't sold out, and the lower bowl was half empty during the
third period.

Game notes
The Sharks' penalty killers are the worst in the NHL, but
they've killed 20 straight power plays. ... In the finale of its
seven-game road trip, San Jose lost to Los Angeles even though the
Kings didn't have a power play. The Islanders didn't get their
first power play until 5{ minutes remained in the second period.
... New York's Oleg Kvasha clanged a slap shot off the post during
the third period. Video review confirmed that the puck didn't cross
the goal line. ... Teemu Selanne leads the Sharks with 22 goals,
but he has just two in 23 games. ... Sharks LW Scott Thornton
missed his second straight game with the flu.