SAN JOSE -- If the Sharks want to finish on top of the Pacific Division, they might want to figure out a way to defeat their closest rivals on home ice.
They couldn't do it Thursday night as the Dallas Stars defeated the Sharks 4-2 at HP Pavilion. It was the third time this season -- and the sixth consecutive game in two seasons -- that Dallas took the two points in San Jose.
What makes this season's series even stranger after six games is that neither team has won at home.
Both teams were struggling. Dallas hadn't won in three tries, the Sharks in two.
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San Jose looked solid in the first period, outshooting the Stars 10-5 and scoring first.
The Sharks took a 1-0 lead when defenseman Alexei Semenov came out of the penalty box just as the puck was in the neutral zone. Semenov carried it deep into the Dallas zone, waited for forward Curtis Brown to arrive and threw a cross-ice pass that Brown turned into a shot on Dallas goalie Marty Turco.
Turco made the save, but the rebound went to Sharks forward Milan Michalek, who nailed his team-leading 16th goal at 6:11.
Dallas pulled even at 10:47 of the first period when San Jose captain Patrick Marleau lost a battle for the puck to Stars forward Joel Lundqvist. Dallas had an odd-man rush with only Semenov back, and Niklas Hagman beat Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov with a 19-foot wrist shot.
Just as the Sharks dominated the first period, Dallas controlled the second, outshooting the Sharks 19-9.
The score remained tied, however, until 14:51 of the second period, when Dallas controlled the puck behind Nabokov's net and nobody in a San Jose uniform noticed the Stars' Mike Modano flying into the slot.
Dallas left wing Loui Eriksson passed Modano the puck, and Nabokov didn't have a chance.
The loss, combined with an Anaheim victory in Nashville, dropped the Sharks to third place in the division, though they've played three fewer games than the Ducks and Stars.
RED WINGS 3, CANUCKS 2 (SO), at Detroit -- Henrik Zetterberg scored the only goal of the shootout, which led NHL-leading Detroit past Vancouver and snapped a three-game skid.
CANADIENS 3, THRASHERS 2 (SO), at Atlanta -- Andrei Kostitsyn scored with a brilliant move in the second period, then came through again in the shootout to lead Montreal past Atlanta.
MAPLE LEAFS 3, BRUINS 2 (SO), at Boston -- Mats Sundin and Alex Steen scored shootout goals to help Toronto defeat Boston and snap a six-game road losing streak. Goalie Vesa Toskala won his first shootout in eight attempts.
CAPITALS 5, OILERS 4 (SO), at Washington -- It took 12 rounds, but Matt Bradley's shootout goal led Washington past Edmonton. The Capitals scored all their regulation goals in the second period.
SENATORS 5, HURRICANES 1, at Ottawa -- Antoine Vermette had his first two-goal game of the season, and Ottawa became the first Eastern Conference team with 30 wins by beating Carolina.
DUCKS 2, PREDATORS 1, at Nashville, Tenn. -- Brandon Bochenski and Corey Perry scored to help Stanley Cup-champion Anaheim beat Nashville and stretch its winning streak to a season-high five games.
BLUE JACKETS 4, COYOTES 3, at Glendale, Ariz. -- Rick Nash scored with 21.5 seconds left to lift Columbus over Phoenix for its fourth consecutive win.
SLAP SHOTS -- Calgary's Jarome Iginla and Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier were chosen to be the West and East captains at the NHL All-Star game. ... Veteran goalie Curtis Joseph signed a $1.5 million, one-year contract with Calgary. ... Former player Rob Ramage was sentenced to four years in prison for a 2003 crash that killed ex-Chicago player Keith Magnuson. ... Colorado center Paul Stastny had surgery to remove his appendix and will miss up to three weeks, including his first All-Star game Jan. 27. ... Toronto's Mark Bell will be out another eight weeks after surgery to fix facial fractures.
More NHL coverage online at www.modbee.com/nhl.