Their transition defense was a farce, which allowed the Anaheim Ducks to zip down the ice repeatedly on high-percentage offensive forays en route to a 7-4 pasting of the Sharks on Tuesday night.
The Sharks managed to create an intriguing finish by scoring three consecutive goals in the third, but that merely served as window-dressing.
With the loss, the Sharks fell five points behind Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division and are in jeopardy of losing the season series. The Ducks lead 3-1, and three of the next four meetings will be in Orange County, including tonight's rematch.
Samuel Pahlsson sparked the Ducks with a goal, an assist and a defensive play that prevented the Sharks from getting serious about a comeback.The Sharks' attempts to impose themselves physically backfired. In the first period, Rob Davison left Ducks forward Shawn Thornton gasping for air after squashing him along the boards with a hip check. The Ducks promptly responded by scoring twice in the ensuing minute.
The Sharks cut the lead to 2-1 late in the first period when Mike Grier jammed home a loose puck after Mark Bell's poor-angle shot handcuffed goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Then in the second, Scott Parker upended Ryan Getzlaf with an open-ice check. This led to a brief bout between Parker and George Parros. Although the fight itself was a relative clunker, Parker ended up on top, which fueled the atmosphere at the rink.
But again the Ducks quickly replied on the scoreboard. Less than two minutes after the fight, Andy McDonald scored in transition when Chris Kunitz spotted him with an alert pass to the weak side to make it 3-1.
Later in the second, McDonald picked up an interference penalty near the Sharks' crease. Grier responded by popping McDonald. On the subsequent 4-on-4 situation, Matt Carle giftwrapped a puck to Rob Niedermayer in the slot to make it 4-1 at 11:51 of the second.
That led to Pahlsson's defensive highlight. Jonathan Cheechoo could have cut the lead to two with his wraparound attempt that had Giguere caught out of position. But Pahlsson continued to bolster his Selke candidacy by reaching out with his stick to rob Cheechoo.
Shortly after Pahlsson's rescue, the Ducks scored again off the rush. Dustin Penner steamed down the slot for the goal that stretched the lead to 5-1, and the fan evacuation was under way.
The Sharks managed to end a 1-for-41 skid on the power play when Patrick Marleau and Cheechoo struck in the third period to gussy up the corpse.
But the Sharks needed a conversion early in the game and didn't get it. They had the opening power play of the game when Dustin Penner was whistled for hooking.
Before Tuesday, the Sharks' worst defensive night at home this season was a 5-2 loss to Colorado in December.
The Sharks finished this four-game homestand 1-2-1 with lone victory coming against the sad-sack Chicago Blackhawks.
Their next eight are on the road. The next home match is Feb.26 against Anaheim.
NOTES: Sharks right wing Steve Bernier is progressing more quickly than expected after breaking his big toe last month while playing in the minors. ... The Sharks-Los Angeles game on March 27 is in jeopardy of being dropped from the Versus TV schedule, in part because the Kings' struggles this season have diminished the attraction. In the event that Versus decides against televising the game, Fox Sports Net is expected to step in the breach and carry it in the Bay Area. ... Notre Dame's hockey team was ranked No.1 in the NCAA for the first time in school history this week, and the Irish has a local connection. Its video coordinator is Brad Aldrich, who spent five months with the Sharks' coaching staff last season a video intern. His dad is Sharks equipment manager Mike Aldrich.