RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Sharks looked as if they had found their game early against the Carolina Hurricanes, but it went missing again before the night was over.

And for the first time all season, San Jose now has two regulation losses in a row after dropping a 5-3 decision Friday at the PNC Arena.

"You give up four goals in the third period," the Sharks' Joe Thornton said, "you're not going to win too many games."

Both teams were playing the second half of back-to-back games with travel and the third in four nights. But while the Hurricanes got stronger, the Sharks went the other direction after jumping out to a 2-0 lead.

And that had coach Todd McLellan raising some red flags.

"I don't see an energized team right now," he said. "I see us chasing and I see the other team dictating the pace of the game. I see us making sloppy plays, sloppy passes -- even missing assignments, defensive assignments that we should be able to do in our sleep right now."

Then he added: "That could be lazy or that could be fatigue and we have to figure that part out."

With backup goalie Alex Stalock in net, the Sharks got early goals from Tommy Wingels and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and a late one by Justin Braun. But that wasn't enough as Carolina stormed back with goals by Jay Harrison, Riley Nash, Jordan Staal, Eric Lindholm and Eric Staal -- the last one into an empty net.

San Jose got the strong start it wanted after a poor showing the previous night in a 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

First, the Sharks capitalized on a weak clearing pass by Harrison when Wingels deflected a Jason Demers shot past Carolina goalie Cam Ward at 7:09. The lead doubled at 16:31 when Vlasic's shot from high in the left faceoff found the back of the net.

Carolina applied pressure throughout the second period, but Stalock came up with big saves until Harrison redeemed himself with a shot that bounced off the back-boards, into Stalock's skates and then his own net at 11:36.

Still, the Sharks were leading at the start of what turned into a disastrous final 20 minutes.

Carolina tied the game at 4:54 when Braun lost the puck behind his own net and Harrison launched another shot, this one deflected in by Nash. And less than two minutes later, the Hurricanes took the lead on a shot by Gerbe that Stalock thought he had covered, but didn't.

Jordan Staal was there to punch it into the San Jose net and the Sharks trailed 3-2 at 6:42.

"I got a stick on it, it hit our own guy and came back," said Stalock, who suffered his first NHL loss in his fourth start. "It was a routine play. I went to go freeze it, and it came out from under my glove and he ended up banging it in off the side."

The teams traded goals soon after that with Braun knotting things at 3-3 with a shot from the blue line at 9:35 before another deflection, this one by Lindholm of a shot by Andrej Sekera at 14:00 for what proved to be the winner.

"I was following it to go blocker side," Stalock said. "It changed directions in the slot and ended up going five-hole."

The Sharks flew to Minnesota immediately after the game and have Saturday off to meet a requirement of the NHL labor pact. Their next game is an early 3 p.m. PST start Sunday against the Wild.

"Focus on the next one," the Sharks' Dan Boyle said. "We get a day off tomorrow and obviously we've got to try and win this Minnesota game and salvage what we can out of this road trip."

  • The Sharks almost had bigger problems than the loss as they had to start the third period without Logan Couture, who was being evaluated by the medical staff. He was cleared to play, however, and returned right after the goal by Jordan Staal.

    For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks. Follow him at twitter.com/@PollakOnSharks.

    SUNDAY'S GAME
    Sharks (19-5-5) at Minnesota
    (17-9-5), 3 p.m. CSNCA