DALLAS – Entering the game with their longest regulation losing streak of the season, and playing against what should have been a tired opponent that is already out of playoff contention, the Sharks were obliterated by the Stars on Friday at American Airlines Center, 6-1.
From the drop of the puck, the Sharks looked like they had no interest in competing against a Dallas team that had played in Chicago on Thursday night, and had already beaten San Jose earlier in the week.
The loss stretched the Sharks’ losing streak to five, and it is the longest in more than six years when they dropped six in a row in regulation from Jan. 3-13, 2011. After enjoying a nine-point lead on the rest of the Pacific Division on March 14, the Ducks tied San Jose in points with 91 by beating the Jets at home on Friday night.
Adam Cracknell, who paced the Dallas offense with a hat trick, opened the scoring with his first of three goals. He drove the puck to the net while fighting off Brenden Dillon, and Micheal Haley inadvertently kicked the loose puck through Aaron Dell at 8:30 of the first period.
Prior to that score, it took the Sharks more than seven minutes to register their first shot.
San Jose escaped down just 1-0 at the first intermission, but it quickly got worse. Brett Ritchie was left open by Dillon and whipped in a pass from Tyler Seguin at 1:58, and then Dallas’ third goal really set off coach Pete DeBoer.
Joe Pavelski lost a defensive zone draw, and Brent Burns inexplicably vacated the front of the net, where Jamie Benn was wide open. Benn had all kinds of time to freeze Aaron Dell and slip through his 25th goal at 5:19.
DeBoer called timeout at that point, and was as visibly upset at his bench as he has been in his two seasons as head coach, barking away at the stunned Sharks skaters.
It didn’t help. Cracknell made it 4-0 off of a rush less than two minutes after the timeout, and although Joe Thornton got one back on the power play, the Stars scored two more times in the third period.
Dell misplayed a puck on a Sharks power play, sliding it right to Cracknell for a breakaway in which he finished off a hat trick at 4:59. Just 21 seconds later, John Klingberg converted a two-on-one with Jason Spezza – who had three assists on the night – to make it a 6-1 Dallas lead.
The five-game winless streak is their worst since they went 0-6-1 from Dec. 1-12 last season.
San Jose has just five goals in its last five games.
The Sharks had Jannik Hansen back for the game, after the recent addition had missed the last two games with a head injury. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, though, was not able to finish the game, for reasons that were not immediately clear.
Thornton’s goal was his first on the power play all season, as the Sharks went 1-for-2. Dallas was 0-for-2.
Cracknell’s shorthanded goal was the fourth the Sharks have allowed this season.
Dell suffered his worst game of the season, and his NHL career, allowing six goals on 29 shots. He played all three games against Dallas, stopping 48 of 50 shots in the first two.
Kari Lehtonen, who shut out the Sharks with 30 saves on Monday in a 1-0 win, made 20 saves on Friday. He has played in 10 straight games.
Timo Meier came out of the lineup for Hansen, while Danny O’Regan was reassigned to the Barracuda earlier in the day.
Burns snapped out of his seven-game scoreless streak with an assist on Thornton’s goal, but still has no goals in his last 15 games.
Dallas’ Tyler Seguin was skating in his 500th career NHL game.
The Sharks conclude their road trip Saturday in Nashville, their only appearance there in the regular season. In the first two games of the season series in San Jose, the Sharks won on Oct. 29, 4-1, but dropped a 3-1 decision on March 11.