TAMPA – It began as a day to remember for the Tampa Bay Lightning's Martin St. Louis, but Saturday's contest versus the San Jose Sharks soon turned sour in a 5-4 loss at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
St. Louis scored his eighth career hat trick (first since April 24, 2013 versus the Toronto Maple Leafs) and four goals in a game for the first time in his career.
"I did appreciate the four goals until we were down and the game was over," St. Louis said.
"If you told me before the game we were going to score four goals in two periods, regardless if Marty's got all four of them, and come out on the wrong end of the score it's frustrating," head coach Jon Cooper said.
Buzzing after the excitement of St. Louis tying a franchise record for most goals in a game by an individual player set during the Lightning's first-ever game on October 7, 1992 by Chris Kontos, the team seemed to get a little loose in the defensive zone, causing San Jose to take control.
"You almost have to have a Game 7 mentality because they'll capitalize on your lack of focus," St. Louis said. "It's a game of inches, it takes everything to win these types of games and it's only magnified when you play the top teams in the league. We didn't play with that mentality for a little bit and it cost us."
The Sharks may have struck first on the scoreboard as a blocked shot from Radko Gudas caromed off his stick and onto Matt Nieto's, who finished the play, but the Bolts Martin St. Louis tallied a hat trick before the period's end to help the Lightning get ahead 3-2. Nieto's goal came at 9:46 of the first.
Tyler Kennedy was then sent to the box for hooking at 11:39 and 17 seconds later St. Louis scored on the man advantage for the first of four tallies. It was the Lightning's fourth straight game with a power play marker and 11th in the past 15 games.
Patrick Marleau responded again to re-gain the lead less than a minute later with a wrister that beat a screened Ben Bishop, but St. Louis was then credited with three straight goals. The first came on a breakaway attempt, which it seemed that St. Louis may have lost in the end when Brad Stuart tried to clear the puck and actually scored on his own net at 15:44.
At 19:30, St. Louis earned a hat trick after a scramble in front of the net with 29.7 seconds remaining in the first period.
St. Louis' success carried over to the beginning of the second period as he scored his fourth goal of the game early, yet the tide quickly turned in favor of the Sharks for the remainder of the frame as they took a 5-4 lead. Forward Joe Pavelski scored his first career hat trick with the first coming off of a delayed penalty and an extended amount of time in the offensive zone. He then scored the game-tying power-play goal at 13:09 of the second.
"I thought we put ourselves in a good spot, our special teams and power play were going and we were up 4-2 against a good San Jose team," St. Louis said. "I like our chances up two against anybody we just didn't keep pushing. We took penalties and we didn't kill and next thing you know we're down by a goal, so it's definitely deflating."
Pavelski then recorded the game's second hat trick of the night and put San Jose ahead with exactly one minute left in the middle period, which became the game-winner.
Victor Hedman left the game in the beginning of the third period after blocking a shot off his leg. He was unable to get up from the ice without the support of team trainer Tom Mulligan and Eric Brewer's assistance and did not put any weight on his right leg as he was helped to the locker room. Cooper said he believes Hedman will make the trip because the entire medical staff will be making the trip, but his status for tomorrow is unknown.
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay immediately heads to Carolina Saturday evening as they prepare for a 5 p.m. contest against the Hurricanes Sunday. Sunday's game will conclude five games in seven nights for the Bolts, who will exercise a day-off Monday. They then play their next two games at the Times Forum on Thursday versus the Ottawa Senators and Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche.