It wasn't quite a game they had to have, but the Dallas Stars could have put themselves in a much, much better position to make the playoffs with a strong showing in San Jose on Saturday night.
Instead, the Stars got off to another slow start and fell 3-0 to the Sharks, leaving them in ninth place in the Western Conference and on the outside of the playoff picture looking in for the first time since Feb. 24.
The Sharks jumped on top early when Joe Pavelski was left wide open in the low slot and ripped home a wrister in the first minute of play. And from there, the rest of the period was all San Jose. The Sharks added to their tally with Jason Demers power play goal with less than two minutes left in the frame.
Dallas was able to get a few looks at the net, most notably Michael Ryder's power play chance that was tipped up and out of play, but they were not able to produce consistent scoring chances and were beat to several loose pucks.
Pavelski put the nail in the coffin, at least for this game, in the second period when he scored a four-on-four goal with a tip in front of Kari Lehtonen. The Stars were able to get some looks in the third but could never
More on this game after the jump.
- Okay, let's talk a little bit about effort, which was the topic of some discussion among Stars fans during the game. I, personally, didn't see a problem with the effort. I saw lots and lots (and lots) of problems with the execution, with the game planning, with the discipline, with many things. But I saw two desperate teams playing each other with one having a clearly superior talent set, especially in terms of the forwards. Effort can only make up for so much.
- And when you're clearly out-matched in the talent department, the last thing you need to be doing is taking stupid penalties. I have a lot of very negative things to say about the call on Steve Ott that led to the Demers power-play goal, but most of them were deserved, if some slightly unlucky. And you simply cannot afford to give teams with that sort of forward talent that many opportunities on the power play, or it will hurt you in the end, and it did.
- I do understand some of their frustration, but it did get the better of them tonight. They gave up the first goal, got frustrated and started working against themselves. Then they took penalties and got more frustrated and gave up more goals. It's one thing to get frustrated. It's entirely another to let it beat you like happened tonight.
- Special teams were once again pretty bad. A power play goal against and their own power play unable to get established in the Sharks zone for long stretches. They did kill a prolonged 5-on-3 late, but the Sharks had given up on creating offense at that point.
- I can't blame Kari Lehtonen for any of the goals against, but this would be the time of year you desperately need your goalie to steal you a game.
- The Stars had some chances in the third and some sustained possession but just couldn't get the offense clicking well enough for any really prime looks. That's got to be a concern in these last three games - the depth scoring has all but disappeared and when the top line can't get it going in any given game, this team is in real trouble.
- There's not much else to say about tonight. The Stars came into this home-and-home knowing they had to have at least two points out of these two games. Instead of being able to work with a buffer, now they have one shot for all the hockey marbles on Tuesday. A win, in regulation or overtime, puts them back into eighth if my math is right.