SAN JOSE -– The curse of the first goal-against at home lives on.
Justin Abdelkader’s third period marker was the game-winner in a 2-1 Red Wings triumph at SAP Center on Thursday night, as the Sharks dropped their 19th straight at home when allowing the first goal (0-18-1).
San Jose fell to 5-12-0 at SAP Center this season, and they’ve allowed the first goal in all 12 losses. It’s been nearly a full calendar since the Sharks won at home when allowing the first goal when they beat Anaheim, 6-3, on Jan. 29, 2015.
Tied at 1-1 in the third period, the Sharks had a pair of glorious chances to take the lead. Joonas Donskoi’s attempt from just outside of the crease caught the far post with 7:52 to go, though, while Joel Ward’s high backhander from nearly the same spot was knocked away with 7:01 left in regulation.
After the save on Ward the Red Wings quickly transitioned the other way. Pavel Datsyuk flipped a backhander high off of Martin Jones and the puck swerved to the high slot, where Abdelkader had time to wind up and power it home at 13:08.
The Sharks are 1-3-0 on a five-game homestand, and have lost six of their last seven in regulation in their own building, where they have the NHL’s worst record by a hefty margin.
The Sharks had some prime scoring chances early, but it was Detroit taking a 1-0 lead. Danny DeKeyser was given a little too much room by Justin Braun on a Red Wings rush, and he deposited a shot high over Jones’ glove hand at 9:16.
Prior to the goal, Patrick Marleau had a prime chance in front of the net after a Abdelkader turnover, but he couldn’t backhand it through Mrazek less than two minutes into the game.
San Jose managed to tie it, though, shortly after DeKeyser’s marker. After an offensive zone faceoff win, Brent Burns quickly got off a wrist shot from just inside the blue line, and Ward tipped it through at 10:57. That snapped a nine-game goal-scoring drought for the Sharks winger, and was his 11th of the year.
The Sharks won the first and only other meeting of the season series with the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Nov. 13, 3-2. Detroit won for just the second time in San Jose in its last eight games.
The Sharks were 0-for-3 on the power play, managing just two shots on goal. They entered with the NHL’s best power play since Nov. 22.
Detroit, which didn’t get a power play until late in the second period, was 0-for-2. Joe Pavelski was whistled for interference at 17:07 of the third, costing the Sharks valuable time while trying to equal the score.
Despite getting pulled on Saturday against Winnipeg, Martin Jones started for the 11th time in the last 12. He fell to 5-8-2 in his last 15 starts, allowing two goals on 25 shots.
Backup Alex Stalock returned to the Sharks after a two-game conditioning stint earlier in the week, taking advantage of the break in the schedule to get some work. He won both games with the Barracuda, stopping 53 of 57 shots overall.
Making his fourth start in a row ahead of Jimmy Howard, Mrazek made 35 saves.
Mike Brown drew back into the lineup after a two-game absence for Chris Tierney, who was reassigned to the Barracuda on Sunday. Brown skated on the fourth line with center Dainius Zubrus and Donskoi.
Joe Thornton saw his eight-game point streak come to an end, while Red Wings rookie Dylan Larkin, who assisted on DeKeyser’s goal, now has a four-game scoring streak.
The Sharks wrap up their homestand with a rare 4 p.m. start against the Maple Leafs on Saturday. San Jose beat Toronto at Air Canada Centre on Dec. 17, 5-4, on a Brent Burns overtime score.