SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Tampa Bay Lightning hoped to get back to their defensive-minded system against a San Jose Sharks team who is among the top two in the league for goals and shots per game. Yet an early deficit left the Bolts scrambling to keep pace on the scoreboard and led to their third straight loss in as many games.
“People are going to look at the fact that we haven’t scored too many goals,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “My concern is we’ve given up 15 goals with the goalie in the net in three games. If you’re going to give up five a game, the chances of you winning are not good and that’s been our problem.”
Despite shaking up the lines in hopes of a more offensive result, the line that remained constant – “the Kid Line” – was arguably the one line that made the most impact for the Lightning, including their lone tally to break the Sharks chances at a shutout.
And despite Anders Lindback being handed his fourth loss in five games played, the netminder was another reason that Tampa Bay remained within striking distance after the opening frame.
While the scoreboard did not quite match up with the Bolts’ effort in the first period, they found themselves trailing 2-0 after 20 minutes had passed for the third straight game.
“I thought we had a lot of time of possession, except when we broke down, the puck ended up in our net,” Cooper said.
Tommy Wingels broke the scoreless tie less than four minutes into the opening frame with a wrist shot from the left face-off circle after Martin St. Louis and Victor Hedman lost a puck battle in the corner of the Sharks zone. San Jose then doubled their lead when Brad Stuart scored the Sharks’ second goal of the game at 10:52. Tyler Kennedy took the initial shot, which bounced off of Lindback’s pads and back to Stuart at the blue line. Stuart then sent the slapshot past the Bolts’ goalie for the tally.
However the Lightning put the best offensive pressure yet this road trip against the Sharks, highlighted by a 3-on-1 shorthanded opportunity led by Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. Lindback also faced the most shots on goal (18) in any period to date.
The Sharks then increased their lead to 3-0 at 8:13 of the middle period when Patrick Marleau fed a quick pass to Wingels for his second marker of the game.
The offense only continued for San Jose in the final 20 minutes of play with two goals coming 19 seconds a part in the first five minutes. Brent Burns was credited with the tip-in from Scott Hannan’s initial shot from the point. Then Marleau, who missed on his first attempt, managed to scoop the puck around Lindback and slip it by him for a five-goal difference.
Johnson and company broke Antti Niemi’s shutout after 47:39 of play. Blueliner Mark Barberio moved the puck up the ice, sending it to Richard Panik. Panik quickly passed the puck to Palat, who then fed a hard pass to Johnson. Johnson capitalized on the play for a 5-1 score with just more than 12 minutes remaining in the contest, which ended as the final in San Jose.
“Now we just have to move on to Anaheim,” Cooper said. “Just turn the page on tonight and try to salvage two points.”
UP NEXT – The Lightning close out a four-game road trip in their second game of a back-to-back Friday versus the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center at 10 p.m. EST. After exercising an off-day Saturday, Tampa Bay then practices at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Sunday, before playing tilts verus the Eastern Conference’s Metropolitan Division Thanksgiving week.