Tampa Bay 6-4-0; San Jose 4-2-4
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Thursday’s 10:30 p.m. (EST) contest is the first of two games between the Tampa Bay Lightning and San Jose Sharks this season. The last time the Bolts visited SAP Center they suffered a 7-2 setback on December 21, 2011, but recovered in their last meeting with a overtime win, 6-5, at the Tampa Bay Times Forum later that year. The Sharks and Lightning close out the season series in Tampa Bay on January 18.
As the last team to suffer consecutive losses in 2013-14, the Bolts will be looking to snap their first two-game skid of the year against the Sharks. Both boasting dynamic offenses - San Jose ranks third in the NHL with an average of 3.38 goals per game, while the Lightning are eighth with 3.00 goals per game - Tampa Bay must maintain their defense-first mindset. They had previously gone 10 straight with three or less goals scored on them in a game, but have allowed 11 goals against in their past two tilts.
LIGHTNING – After finding success following Steven Stamkos’ injury, the Bolts have found themselves in unfamiliar territory, losing two in a row to the West. In their most recent dropped decision, there was not much of a celebration for captain Martin St. Louis, who skated in his 1,000th career NHL game, losing 5-2 at Staples Center to the Los Angeles Kings.
Upon arriving in San Jose, head coach Jon Cooper shook things up at Wednesday’s practice at Sharks Ice, with Valtteri Filppula moving up in the ranks and centering Teddy Purcell and St. Louis. Other changes included the second line being compromised of Ryan Malone, Alex Killorn and J.T. Brown. Brett Connolly was mixed in with P.C. Labrie, Nate Thompson and B.J. Crombeen. Blueliner Dmirtry Korobov was also reassigned to the Syracuse Crunch (AHL), as Mark Barberio appears ready to return to their defensive corps.
Now with just two games left on the road before returning to Tampa Bay, the Lightning are looking for their seventh road win of the year, which would surpass their total road win count from last season (six in 24 games).
SHARKS – A team with a lot of talent up front already, with Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl has also burst onto the scene for the Sharks, who have been somewhat lacking in the youth department in seasons’ past.
A part of the 2003-04 Stanley Cup-winning Lightning team, former Bolts defenseman Dan Boyle is leading a mobile, puck moving blue line, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun are making cases to represent their respective countries in Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Antti Niemi, a Vezina Trophy Finalist a year ago, has been a consistent force in net for the Sharks.
Coming off what ties a season-long, five-game road trip, Thursday’s game marks a season-long, five-game homestand at the SAP Center in downtown San Jose.
Victor Hedman’s two points (one goal, one assist) Tuesday, helped him achieve the 100-point plateau in his NHL career. He is also just one goal shy of tying his career high for goals (five) set in the 2011-12 campaign. Valtteri Filppula’s ninth goal of the season also helped him match his total goal count through 41 games last year. Filppula has four points (three goals, one assist) in his past three games.
Lightning – D Keith Aulie (upper body, out), D Mark Barberio (upper body, day-to-day), D Brian Lee (knee, out), F Tom Pyatt (broken collarbone, out), F Steven Stamkos (broken right tibia, out); Sharks – F Adam Burish (back, out), F Brent Burns (upper body, day-to-day), F Raffi Torres (knee, out)
11/12 Recalled Forward J.T. Brown from the Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
11/12 Recalled Defenseman Dmitry Korobov from the Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
11/20 Reassigned Defenseman Dmitry Korobov to the Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Twitter Stat Pack:
The #TBLightning’s @Heds77 leads all Lightning defenseman for points (11) and ranks second on the club for average total ice time (21:25).
Skating in 151 games over parts of three seasons, the #Bolts @MattCarle25 began his NHL career with the @SanJoseSharks, posting 63 points (16 goals, 47 assists).
With an assist on @Heds77’s goal on Tuesday, the #TBLightning’s @Tjohnny09 extended his assist streak to three straight games.
The #Bolts are 2-1-0 in the first half of back-to-back scenarios, while recording a perfect 3-0-0 in the second half of back-to-backs.
Going 3-for-8 on the power-play in their past three games, the #TBLightning are 8-3-0 this season when recording a goal on the man advantage.
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