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A failure to stay focused is keeping the San Jose Sharks from leading the Pacific Division.
After two straight one-goal losses, San Jose looks for its first win at Tampa Bay in more than 6 1/2 years when the Sharks continue a five-game road trip on Sunday against the Lightning.
Since setting a franchise record for largest road margin of victory with an 8-0 win over the Lightning on Feb. 8, 2000, San Jose (7-4-0) has managed just seven goals in three losses and a tie during its last four visits to the St. Pete Times Forum.
This game also begins a stretch of four in a row for San Jose against Eastern Conference foes. Since the start of last season, the Sharks are 10-1 against the East - including a 5-0 record versus the Southeast Division.
San Jose concludes its road trip Tuesday against the Florida Panthers before returning home to face the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Sharks opened their road swing Monday with a shutout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, before falling 2-1 to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday and 4-3 to the Nashville Predators on Thursday.
The Sharks scored the game's first goal in both losses.
"We're not playing consistent 60-minute hockey," San Jose defenseman Kyle McLaren said. "It's costing us games. It is inexcusable and has to be addressed. We are not going to go anywhere playing the way we are now."
Patrick Marleau's power-play goal early in Thursday's third period tied the score at 3, but goaltender Vesa Toskala gave up the eventual game-winner to Nashville's Scott Hartnell with 2:29 to go.
Joe Thornton picked up two assists for the Sharks and is tied with Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks for second in the league with 13. The reigning Hart and Ross Trophy winner has yet to score a goal this season, but he could be in line to do so in this contest.
The top overall pick in the 1997 draft, Thornton posted his first career hat trick against the Lightning on March 1, 2001, while with the Boston Bruins. He has 12 goals and 15 assists in 26 career games versus Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay (5-5-0) will try to get back in the win column after a 6-4 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.
The Lightning watched an early lead disappear in less than a one-minute span. Goaltender Marc Denis gave up goals to Eric Staal, Kevyn Adams and Erik Cole just 43 seconds apart - a Hurricanes franchise record - midway through the first period.
"Those three goals were huge for them - mistakes on our part and they capitalized," said Tampa Bay defenseman Dan Boyle.
Rookie Johan Holmqvist replaced Denis after the veteran gave up Staal's second goal of the night 5:14 into the second period.
Vincent Lecavalier continued his scoring streaks in the loss. With a goal and assist, the No. 1 overall pick in 1998 now has three goals and three assists a four-game points streak.
Martin St. Louis also extended his scoring streak to four games. He scored against the Hurricanes, giving him five goals in his last three games. He had only one goal in his first seven games of the season.
|Oct 29 '06||SJS 4 at TBL 2|
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