Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks
By Mary Walsh
The San Jose Sharks lost 6-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Saturday’s road game at Amalie Arena. Tampa Bay got goals from Steven Stamkos (2), Yanni Gourde, Mathieu Joseph, Alex Killorn, and Victor Hedman. Two Sharks goals came from Evander Kane and one from Marcus Sorensen. Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves for the win, while Martin Jones made 20 saves in the Sharks’ loss. The Sharks power play went 1-3, while their penalty kill was 2-4.
The Sharks were once again missing some significant players from their blue line. Erik Karlsson skated during warm-ups, but then there was a last minute scratch Saturday. Marc-Edouard Vlasic continues to be out, missing his eighth game since January 2. It is not certain whether either player will return before the NHL All Star Game.
After the game, Sharks Captain Joe Pavelski was asked about these roster challenges, and he said: “We were all right at times, we had a lot of chances. You can’t give up six, but it gets a little bit away from us there at the end. And five on three goal and a couple of those things. We definitely had a chance in this game I think.”
Of Erik Karlsson’s absence in particular, Sharks forward Evander Kane said: “No matter who it is, it’s always next man up. We’ve played without a lot of our top D through the course of the season, played well. I mean we played with three guys that are normally out of the lineup against these guys at home and beat them. So obviously it’s a loss but it’s not an excuse.”
The Lightning struck first, 3:32 into the game. Mathieu Joseph dumped the puck in from just over the center line and then followed the puck to the corner. JT Miller sped into the corner as well and centered the puck on net. Anthoney Cirelli was in front of the net to take the shot, but Jones kicked the puck back out. He did not kick it far enough, as Joseph was right there to put the rebound in the net. It was Joseph’s 12th of the season, with assists to Cirelli and Miller.
Tampa Bay doubled their lead at 17:51. In a flurry of activity at the Sharks net, Marcus Sorensen poked the puck away from Brayden Point. unfortunately, Alex Killorn was coming down the slot and the puck came right to him with traffic to screen Jones’s view. It was Killorn’s 11th of the season.
Evander Kane got one back for the Sharks on the power play at 19:39 of the period. With 44 seconds left in the power play and less time left in the period, Joe Thornton made a pass to Timo Meier at the side of the net. Instead of taking the shot, Meier found Kane arriving on the other side of the blue paint and sent the puck to him. Kane had an open net as Andrei Vasilevskiy was coming across. It was Kane’s 18th of the season, with assists going to Meier and Thornton.
The Sharks led the period in shots 16-7, while Tampa Bay led in faceoff wins 59%-41%.
Evander Kane added another goal to tie the score just 58 seconds into the second period. Kane caught a pass from Joonas Donskoi just as Kane reached the Lightning blue line. He skated into the slot and took a shot that went wide of the net and came off the backboards. It came off the boards just so that as Kane reached the net, the puck slid by the post and was in position to be knocked in. Assists went to Donskoi and Radim Simek.
It took the Lightning some time to retake the lead, but they did at 7:29 with a goal from Yanni Gourde. Steven Stamkos shot the puck behind the net and off the boards, where it found Gourde skating, then diving to reach it and put it in the net. It was Gourde’s 12th of the season, with assists going to Stamkos and Ondrej Palat.
Tampa Bay got their lead back to two at 12:01, on a power play caused by a tripping penalty to Logan Couture. That penalty was taken in the final seconds of a penalty to Kevin Labanc, so the Sharks were just finishing a 3-on-5 kill. Victor Hedman skated by three Sharks to get the shot under Jones and into the net. It was Hedman’s seventh of the season. An assist went to Nikita Kucherov.
The shot count was even in the second period at 13. By the end of the second, the Sharks had improved their faceoff percentage to 50%.
Steven Stamkos gave the Lightning a 5-2 lead at 5:08 of the third period. Kucherov skated around Simek along the boards, then passed the puck to Stamkos in the middle of the ice. Stamkos got around Donskoi and took a shot through traffic for his 25th goal of the season. Kucherov and Ryan McDonough had the assists.
Stamkos scored again at 14:15, this time from his usual spot high on the faceoff circle, and on the power play. Evander Kane was in the box for roughing against Erik Cernak. Asists went to Hedman and Point.
Marcus Sorensen scored to make it 6-3 with a slap shot in the final minute of the game. Assists went to Tim Heed and Kevin Labanc. Despite the score, Vasilevskiy was very agitated about giving up that goal and took it out on his stick and blocker.
The final shot count was 39-26 Sharks, and the Sharks won 53% of the faceoffs.
The Sharks next play on Monday in Florida against the Panthers at 4:00 PM PT.