SAN JOSE -- The Sharks let two points slip away against a non-playoff team Thursday night. Now San Jose may need to win the rest of its regular season games just to stay in first place in the Pacific Division.

The Sharks' normally solid penalty kill allowed two goals, including the eventual game-winner with 3:36 left in the third period, in a 4-3 loss to the sputtering Winnipeg Jets.

Just 27 seconds after Logan Couture took a delay-of-game penalty for clearing the puck over the glass in his own end, Tobias Enstrom scored for Winnipeg, which is now tied for 11th place in the Western Conference.

Since the Olympic break, the Sharks have let valuable points slip away against teams not in the playoff picture -- gaining just six points combined in games against Buffalo, Carolina, the New York Islanders, Florida, Calgary and Edmonton, and now Winnipeg.

"You want to be consistent, no matter who you play. We've let some teams that are not as good in the standings beat us and take points away, for whatever reason," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said.

The Sharks have 103 points and remain two points ahead of Anaheim for first place in the Pacific but have now played 75 games, three more than the Ducks. Los Angeles has played 74 games and is in third place with 92 points.

San Jose has seven regular season games left, starting with Saturday's game at Colorado.


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"We have to win them all," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "I don't anticipate L.A. or Anaheim losing any games, so you have to win them all, and that's what the goal is. We've got to come in and perform well. I like that there's that pressure on us right to perform. It should keep us honest."

An eventful start to the second period saw the Sharks give up two straight goals -- including one that goalie Antti Niemi wanted to have back.

Blake Wheeler skated around Sharks defenseman Marc—Edouard Vlasic, and his shot from a bad angle somehow got past Niemi to tie the score at 2-2 less than two minutes into the second period.

Niemi had no chance on the Jets' third goal. Wheeler, on a Winnipeg power play, found an open Dustin Byfuglien with a cross-ice pass, and Byfuglien's one-timer gave the Jets' a 3-2 lead 9:32 into the second.

Couture, who was hurt in Monday's game in Calgary and missed Tuesday's game in Edmonton with a cut on his lower leg, had the puck find him again in the second period. This time, it was for his 20th goal of the year, as James Sheppard's shot from just above the circle went off Couture and behind Jets goalie Al Montoya with 8:37 left in the second.

Couture's penalty came with 10 seconds left on Brad Stuart's holding infraction and was too much to overcome even though San Jose is seventh in the league with a 86.5 penalty kill percentage.

"I tried to backhand it down, and it kind of flipped up on me at the last second," Couture said. "Unlucky. I'm not a big fan of that rule, never have been. But it's there, and it cost us tonight."

  • Among the scratches for the Sharks were Raffi Torres, who missed his 10th straight game as he continues to recover from general soreness in his surgically repaired knee. Other scratches were forwards Adam Burish, who is likely out for the rest of the regular season with a hand injury, and Freddie Hamilton and defenseman Scott Hannan.

    Burish had surgery Wednesday to insert two pins into his left hand, which was injured Tuesday in Edmonton when he blocked a shot by Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry at 14:05 of the second period. After the blocked shot, Burish skated directly to the Sharks dressing room, clutching his left hand and in obvious pain.

    Burish missed the first four months of the season recovering from back surgery after he was hurt in a preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks. He returned to his fourth-line role Feb. 7 and had no points in the 14 games he played.

  • UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez of San Jose dropped the ceremonial first puck before the start of Thursday's game. The UFC announced Thursday night it will return to SAP Center on July 26. Cain will not be fighting on the card, which, along with ticket information, will be announced at a later date.

    For more on the Sharks, see the Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks. Follow Curtis Pashelka on Twitter at twitter.com/CurtisPashelka.

    Saturday's game

    Sharks (47-19-9) at Colorado (46-21-6), noon, CSNCA

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