SAN JOSE – Add goaltending to the growing list of issues currently plaguing the sinking San Jose Sharks.
Martin Jones was pulled just three-and-a-half minutes into Tuesday’s game with the Islanders, while backup Alex Stalock allowed a horrific goal early in the third period as the Sharks lost 4-2 to the Islanders at SAP Center.
The Sharks (7-8-0) have lost eight of their last 11 games, including three of four on their homestand, and are about to embark on their longest road trip of the regular season (six games).
After a slow start cost them on Saturday in a 1-0 loss to the Ducks, the Sharks again fell behind early. It took just 36 seconds for John Tavares to easily direct in the rebound of a Brock Nelson shot, and less than three minutes later, Mikhail Grabovski’s wrist shot beat Jones to the glove side at 3:30.
Alex Stalock relieved Jones at that point, and played admirably until the start of the third period.
At that point, with the Sharks back in the game on a Joel Ward second period marker, Stalock allowed a slap shot by Johnny Boychuk from behind the blue line to beat him at the 45-second mark for a backbreaking score.
Brent Burns beat Thomas Greiss to the short side on a setup from Tomas Hertl at 14:49 of the third period to pull the Sharks to within one, but that was all that they would push past Greiss, who was making his first start against the organization he played for from 2008-13. He improved to 4-1-2 on the season with 34 saves.
The Sharks had the momentum going into the final frame, registering eight of the final nine shot of the frame. That includes a great one-man effort from Ward, who stripped Travis Hamonic of the puck and slipped it through Greiss’ pads for his eighth goal at 10:14.
Boychuk’s goal took the wind out of their sails, though. Tavares’ empty-netter late capped the scoring.
The Sharks welcomed Melker Karlsson back into the lineup for his season debut, after the club’s 2014-15 rookie of the year dealt with a nagging lower body injury since training camp. Karlsson started the night on the third line with Chris Tierney and Tommy Wingels, but later skated on the Joe Thornton line, switching places with Joonas Donskoi.
New York won the first and only other meeting between the teams on Oct. 17 at Barclays Center, 6-3.
San Jose had not lost in regulation to the Islanders at home since Feb. 19, 2003.
The Sharks entered the night with the league’s worst power play, and finished 0-for-2. They have not scored a single goal with a man advantage in eight home games (0-for-21), extending a franchise record, according to the Associated Press.
New York also finished 0-for-2.
Stalock ended up with 20 saves on 21 shots in more than 56 minutes, but was on the hook for the loss since he surrendered the game-winner to Boychuk (1-3-0).
Jones has now been pulled in two of his last three starts.
Greiss played 44 games with the Sharks over six years, posting a 17-16-3 record, 2.52 goals-against average and .912 save percentage. He was allowed to walk in favor of Stalock after the lockout-shortened 2013 season.
Thornton skated in his 1300th career game, becoming the 58th player in NHL history to reach that mark.
Nikolay Goldobin and Mirco Mueller were recalled on Tuesday morning, but did not dress.
The Sharks’ season-long road trip kicks off on Friday in Detroit. It includes stops in Buffalo, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Columbus. They are currently 4-3-0 away from SAP Center.