Martin St. Louis scored his second goal of the evening in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lighting edged the San Jose Sharks 6-5 in a wild overtime finish. The Sharks despite getting goals from Logan Couture, Michal Handzus, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Colin White and Tommy Wingels, were not able to contain the Lightning who were able to make the most of their opportunities. With the overtime loss, the Sharks still pick up one point in the Western Conference Standings. However team teal still takes one on the chin despite scoring five goals for the second consecutive game on Thursday night. Antti Niemi in spite of four days rest still had a very hard evening and only managed to stop 19 of 25 Tampa Bay shots on goal, including the only shot the Lighting got credit for in the overtime period. St Louis’ goal came with just 32.8 seconds remaining in the extra period.
The Sharks on this nine game road trip are 1-1-1 and 31-17-7 overall. On the evening team teal put 50 shots on goal counting the overtime period and pretty much did their part from an offensive standpoint. This contest also marks the sixth straight game in which team teal has allowed the opposition three goals or more in a game. The Sharks have little time to mull this one over as they head on from Tampa, Florida to Raleigh, North Carolina for another round of two games in two days as the Carolina Hurricanes await the arrival of team teal Friday night. The Sharks despite the loss did have a piece of good news as before the game it was announced that team teal had acquired the services of Dominic Moore from the Lighting for a second round draft choice next season.
Looking Back on a Bittersweet Night in Florida:
Lightning Rod - The Sharks would get the first break of the game fairly early. Tampa’s Victor Hedman drew the game’s first penalty for delay of game as he flipped the puck over the glass and out of play. Team teal would only need 50 seconds to capitalize as Couture took the rebound of a Joe Thornton tip in attempt that bounced of the pads of Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson. Couture was first to the puck at the doorstep of the goal crease and deposited the rubber biscuit into the open area of the net to Roloson’s right. Just a minute and change into the contest and the Sharks had the early 1-0 lead. Both teams would spend much of the period going back and fourth trading shots and scoring chances. Dan Boyle made one of the early plays of the game denying the Lightning’s Steve Downie of what looked like a sure goal . Boyle dove to knock away Downie’s point blank shot as Niemi was caught out of position, with the puck deflecting away off of Boyle stick.
The Lighting who were virtually shut down in their trip to the Shark Tank back in December were determined not to be denied this time around. Tampa Bay would get the next two goals of the contest to gain the lead on team teal before the period would draw to it’s conclusion. The first of the two goals was scored by Lightning’s star Steven Stamkos who took the rebound of a slap shot from the left point by Brendan Mikkelson that Niemi failed to gather. Stamkos made a dive for the puck and literally shot it over Niemi’s outstretched stick to while falling to his knees. Tampa’s next score came as the result of a penalty to Ryane Clowe for interfering with Roloson with less than a minute to go in the period. All Tampa needed was nine seconds from the ensuing face off as Teddy Purcell would have control of the puck from the right point and with the help of a screen from teammate Ryan Malone slid the puck towards the net and directly into the goal. Because of Malone’s screen, Niemi simply never saw the puck and Tampa now had the lead.
Quick Strikes- The Sharks came out in the second period in full attack mode and stayed in it for virtually the entire period. Team teal struck first just a minute and 44 seconds into the period as Handzus scored off of a rebound from a Jamie McGinn wrist shot which bounced off of Roloson. As Handzus was shooting the puck, Tampa’s Brett Clark ran into the goal and knocked it loose. After a review in the NHL war room in Toronto, Handzus goal was ruled good and valid. The Sharks would continue their assault on the Lightning defensive zone putting the veteran Roloson through another tough test. Roloson however was up to the challenge in denying strong scoring bids from Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns and John McCarthy. The Sharks would outshoot Tampa in the period 20-4 and had probably more scoring chances than they could have asked for.
Despite the rather enormous advantage the Sharks had in the shot count, it would be the Lighting that would be the next team to strike. Tampa’s S Downie would follow up his own slapshot off of the back boards and knock in a subsequent wrister that was placed perfectly between Niemi and the goal post with just under six minutes remaining in the period. However, team teal was very quick to respond and it only would take them 29 seconds to do so. Vlasic would be the beneficiary of a perfect feed pass by Wingles from behind the Tampa goal and beat Roloson five hole with a wrister to quickly draw teal teal even again at 3-3. Team teal however was not done yet, and just needed about another minute and a half to regain the lead thanks to a perfect execution of an odd man rush lead by Torrey Mitchell. Mitchell took the puck across ice and was able to feed it towards McGinn who’s slap shot rebounded away from Roloson and straight to the stick of Colin White. From there White shot the puck away from Roloson and watched as the rubber disk slipped into the back of the net to give team teal the lead again. This was also White’s first NHL goal in three seasons.
Weathering a Lighting Storm – The third period would once again see this game swing like a pendulum going back and fourth. The Lightning though limited to seven shots in this period would certainly make the most of the chances they got. It did not take very long for Tampa to draw even with the Sharks as a Lighting face off win led directly to the tying goal. Off of the face off, Stamkos somehow was allowed to go freely to the slot where he waited for a feed pass from Hedman. Stamkos once he received the puck immediately drilled a wrister that beat Niemi to his left to tie the game again at 4-4. Just over five minutes after Stamkos’ second goal of the evening, M St Louis would give the Lighting the lead back as off of a Sharks neutral zone turnover Teddy Purcell carried the puck back into team teal’s defensive zone. Purcell then dropped the puck off to Vincent Lecavalier while St Louis quietly stood to the left of the Sharks goal. Lecavalier then fed the pass over to St Louis who got the puck despite it bouncing off of the stick of C White. St Louis then moved out and flipped the puck towards the area where Justin Braun was standing. The puck hit Braun’s stick and deflected into the goal. The lead had changed hands yet again now with Tampa being up by a goal.
Both teams stiffened up a little after St Louis’ goal though the Sharks would get the better end of the scoring exchanges. Despite this they were unable to get anymore pucks past Roloson until there was 5:10 remaining in the third period. Off of a seeming near turnover by the Sharks from a Clowe pass into the neutral zone, Couture was able to recover the puck near the Tampa blue line and had a lane up ice flanked to his right by Wingles. As Couture got close to the net he fed Wingles the puck. From there Wingles drilled a slap shot that beat Roloson high near the top shelf to once again tie the game, this time at 5-5. The game would remain tied as both teams were not able to find too many more opportunities to take this game in regulation.
Getting Zapped in OT- In the overtime period the Sharks had some good chances to get the game winning goal launching five shots at Lightning goalie Roloson. Unfortunately for team teal, none of those five shots though close never hit their mark. For Tampa, in reality they actually had two shots on goal. The first shot by Matt Gilroy beat Niemi but hit the right post (shots that hit posts don’t count on the shot total). The only other shot for Tampa in the overtime period was set up as Hedman took control of the puck in team teal’s defensive zone with 40 seconds left. Hedman skated past Thornton and was able to feed the puck through traffic to St Louis who was perfectly stationed in front of the Sharks net. St Louis quickly then wristed the puck under Niemi five hole and Tampa had the win in overtime.
Game Analysis- If you were just a hockey fan who had absolutely no vested interest in the outcome of this game, this was certainly a very entertaining game to watch. The offensive show put on by both teams was very good. For the Sharks they are now running into problems as far as holding down the opponent’s offensive attack and over the last six games played they have given up a total of 24 goals, 23 of which came in regulation time. The Sharks offense has more or less come around in the last couple of games (this past Sunday’s game in St Louis not withstanding) and has been able to put up a decent number of goals themselves. Right now, the Sharks are having a hard time shutting other teams down. One thing that did not help the Sharks cause Thursday night was key times where they let both M St Louis and Stamkos run free and set up shop near and around Niemi. The Sharks need to see where defensively they are misfiring and where they can improve there. This is a new problem they will need to address going forward. This would be a great help to Niemi (and for that matter Greiss too), and give the Sharks better odds at getting two points out of games such as these. Hopefully the Sharks can take away some of the positives here and move on to rebound against Carolina Friday night in Raleigh.
GO SHARKS, BEAT THE ‘CANES…
The King Shark
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