DALLAS -- It came down to this: Veteran forward Jeremy Roenick sprawling on the ice to block an overtime shot, the puck clipping his stick, then floating into the net over Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov's left shoulder.
Game over. And, with one more loss, season over.
The Sharks fell to 0-3 in their Western Conference semifinal series with the Dallas Stars. Not exactly where a team that considered itself a serious Stanley Cup contender expected to be at this point.
"Another bad break against us," a disheartened Roenick said Tuesday night after the 2-1 defeat. "It's amazing how we cannot get a bounce in our favor in this series."
The loss on a goal by Mattias Norstrom 4:37 into overtime was the second time in 48 hours that the Sharks went into the third period with a lead they could not hold.
The Sharks tried to portray the loss as one bit of bad luck after another, and to an extent it was. An apparent San Jose goal in the first period was disallowed because an official said he lost sight of the puck in the crease before Patrick Marleau punched it into the net. And both Dallas goals were deflected past Nabokov off the sticks of his teammates.
But the Sharks also created their own problems after a short-handed goal by Marleau staked them to a 1-0 lead in the final minute of the first period, with defenseman Christian Ehrhoff in the middle of events leading to both the tying and winning goals.
A penalty to defenseman Alexei Semenov at 19:06 of the second period meant the Sharks began the third period short-handed.
Thirty-five seconds into the final period, Ehrhoff put his team at a two-man disadvantage when he hooked Stars left wing Brenden Morrow as he split the defense and closed in on Nabokov.
"We really put a gun to our head when we took a penalty that put us down 5 on 3," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said.
Dallas didn't need much time to tie the score on a one-timer by Sergei Zubov that changed direction after striking the stick of Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and went into the net between Nabokov's pads at the 47-second mark.
In overtime, the teams were trading scoring chances when Ehrhoff iced the puck at the end of a long shift with the Sharks' Torrey Mitchell, Mike Grier and Roenick trying to contain the Stars' top line of Mike Ribeiro, Jere Lehtinen and Morrow.
"I had a couple guys yell at me to get rid of it, so I did," explained Ehrhoff, who said he felt under pressure.
Wilson didn't see it that way -- "We iced the puck when we didn't have to" -- and used his one timeout to buy time for his weary players to catch their breaths.
Ultimately, that didn't help. Ribeiro got the puck down low, sent it to Norstrom at the top of the left faceoff circle, and Norstrom put San Jose on the brink of elimination.
Nabokov said he never saw the shot.
"That's why they encourage people to go to the net and create traffic," the goalie said. "If a team is able to do that, sometimes where it bounces goes against you."
Nabokov faced 29 shots, the most Dallas has mustered in the series. He also kept things tied at 1-1 midway through the third period when he frustrated Niklas Hagman on a penalty shot -- called when Ehrhoff dragged Hagman down as he drove to the net.
When it was over, all the Sharks could do was cling to the hope that they can become the third team in NHL history to overcome a three-game deficit with four consecutive wins.
"We don't want to dwell on this too long," said Marleau, who showed his speed in the first period when he took advantage of a Zubov giveaway at the San Jose blue line, skating in all alone to beat Dallas goalie Marty Turco. "We just have to keep going here, keep our spirits up and just win the next game."