DALLAS -- The San Jose Sharks left San Jose two weeks ago struggling, but still tied for third in the Western Conference.
They limped home Saturday straddling the cutoff line for playoff teams after a 3-1 loss to the Dallas Stars that left coach Todd McLellan dealing with hockey's version of "Groundhog Day" as his team ended its season-long trip at 1-4-1 and dropped to 8-6-3 overall.
"More of the same," he said. "A pretty good effort, but like I said after the game in Chicago, you can't take consolation in that. You have to put points in the bank, and we're not doing that right now. You can't win games scoring one goal. It's the same thing over and over, and we've got to find ways to fix it."
The Sharks' missing offense continues to be the big problem. After 29 goals in their first seven games, San Jose has only 12 in the last 10 -- and just seven on the six-game trip just concluded.
Unlike that 2-1 loss in Chicago, this time the Sharks were facing a team that had problems of its own, having given up 18 goals in its last four games. And rookie backup goalie Cristopher Nihlstorp was looking for his first victory after three earlier losses.
Despite that, the only goal the Sharks could muster was a 5-on-3 shot off Patrick Marleau's stick after Dallas had taken a 2-0 lead. Each of those goals came on a Stars power play, and both were connected to a single event involving Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray.
With Dan Boyle in the penalty box, Dallas took a 1-0 lead late in the second period after Murray lost his stick in a collision with Jamie Benn and couldn't prevent the pass that veteran Jaromir Jagr punched into the San Jose net at 19:02 to put San Jose behind 1-0.
Murray then earned an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for complaining about the lack of an interference call. And just 30 seconds into the final period, Dallas doubled its lead when Michael Ryder fired a shot through traffic that beat Antti Niemi while Murray was still in the penalty box.
McLellan did fault Murray for taking the costly penalty but was more upset that officials missed the call that prompted the defenseman's outburst.
"I'm disappointed that he took it, and I'm really disappointed in the call that wasn't made," the coach said. "It should have been a penalty, absolutely 100 percent should have been a penalty."
The Sharks quickly got one of those goals back at 2:19 of the third after a pair of Dallas penalties. On the first faceoff with a two-man advantage, Marleau followed Joe Thornton's instructions on where to stand, then notched his team-leading 12th goal of the season that also ended a team-wide 0-for-21 power play drought.
San Jose thought it had tied the score at 9:07 when Thornton crashed the net and Logan Couture punched in a loose puck. But the Sharks captain was called for goalie interference, and the Dallas lead held.
Both Thornton and his coach thought the officials made the wrong call there as well.
"I thought it was a hockey play," McLellan said. "I thought it was a forward attacking the net, I thought he went after the rebound, and as Jumbo and the goaltender came out of the play, it's actually on his tape, so he's making a play."
A goal by Benn iced the win for Dallas with 2:11 left in the game.
-- With Ryane Clowe suspended by the NHL pending a Monday hearing over an incident late in Friday night's game, the Sharks coach elevated Scott Gomez to one of the top two lines as the center between Marleau and Joe Pavelski.
-- Thornton got into his second fight of the trip, trading punches with Benn in the second period. But the Sharks captain shrugged off the idea he was trying to spark his team.
"It just happens, that's all," he said. "He speared me, I speared him and we dropped the gloves."
-- The Sharks were down to five defensemen most of the game after Brent Burns left about five minutes into the first period with an undisclosed injury and did not return.
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