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Back to bad habits
Lifeless Sharks fall 5-2 to Lightning
10/22/09 - By Mike Lee -

There would be no big comeback in Tampa Bay on Thursday night. After surrendering another two-goal deficit in the opening period, the Sharks floundered against a Lightning lineup that outworked San Jose in just about every facet of the game. The net result was a 5-2 loss to another inferior opponent. San Jose continued their up and down road trip with a head scratching performance.

Three off days between their pummeling of the New York Rangers on Monday seemed to leave the Sharks lethargic as they squared off against another celler-dwelling team that had no business competing with the under-achieving Sharks. But once again, surrendering the lead early in the game has become standard practice for the Sharks.

San Jose got down to business early, staking their opponent to a lead just 30 seconds into the contest. Rookie James Wright scored his first career NHL goal after pounding the net on a bang-bang series of passes from Martin St Louis and Vincent Lecvalier. Lecavalier slammed on the breaks along the right wing boards as the Lightning was on a rush, before zipping a pass to St Louis on the right post. St Louis deflected the pass to Wright who was crashing the net on the off post. With a Sharks defenseman in tow, Wright easily punched home the puck for the 1-0 lead.

Tamp Bay would make it 2-0 with 5 minutes to play in the period on a crazy redirect. Defenseman David Hale threw the puck on net from the left point, where Lightning goal scoring leader Ryan Malone redirected the puck by reaching behind himself as he cut through the slot. The puck changed directions, beating Evgeni Nabokov, and for the second straight game the Sharks trailed by a pair of goals in the opening period.

A holding penalty to Steven Stamkos 6:30 into the 2nd period gave the Sharks an opportunity to cut into the Lightning lead, but Marc-Edouard Vlasic misfired on an empty-net chance down low and the Lightning penalty-killers snuffed out the remainder of the Sharks power play.

Devin Setoguchi took a lead pass up the left side right at the midpoint of the period, but his breakaway shot sailed wide right of Lightning goaltender Mike Smith.

Ryan Vesce scored his 3rd goal in as many games to finally get the Sharks on the board at 12:34 on a scrappy effort in front of the net. Kent Huskins started the sequence by putting a puck on net from the left point. Smith failed to control it, allowing Vesce to get a stick on the puck after fighting off a check down low. Jason Demers earned the secondary assist, giving him 8 on the season.

Stamkos made it 3-1 late in the period after Demers lost his footing down low. Last season’s 1st overall draft pick grabbed the puck from behind the Sharks net and started to skate toward the left corner. As Demers lost his footing, Stamkos circled out to the front of the net, where he whiffed on his first shot attempt, before burying a second try. The initial whiff crossed up Nabokov, allowing Stamkos to slip the second chance just inside the left post.

Andrej Meszaros pushed that lead to 4-1 at 2:54 of the 3rd period on a dup in that mutated into a goal after Marc-Edouard Vlasic tried to get a stick in front of the puck. Meszaros was just past the Sharks blueline when his wrister was redirected by Vlasic, fooling Nabokov.

A slashing penalty to Vincent Lecavalier gave the Sharks a power play with 7:38 to play, and former Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle would convert on the ensuing power play with a shot from the point that deflected off Smith.

That goal would prove meaningless, as the Sharks continued to flounder whenever they gain control of the puck. Smith would see a steady stream of long range pucks, but nothing really challenged him over the final 7 minutes.

Sharks head coach Todd McLellan decided to pull Nabokov, even though his team trailed by two, but all that did was pad Stamkos stats after Alex Tanguay unselfishly passed the puck over to his young linemate after the pair busted out of their own zone with the puck and nothing but ice between them and the empty Sharks goal.

Game Notes:

The loss marked the first time San Jose dropped a game to the Lightning since 2004. The game marked the first time the Sharks have not surrendered a power play goal since they lost 1-0 in the shootout against the Phoenix Coyotes on October 12th. San Jose has allowed a power play goal in 8 of 10 games this season.


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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 0 1 1 2
TB 2 1 2 5
1st period - 1, TB, Wright 1 ( St Louis , Lecavalier), 0:30. 2, TB, Malone 7 (Hale, Downie), 15:01.
2nd period - 3, SJ, Vesce 3 (Huskins, Demers), 12:34. 4, TB, Stamkos 5 (unassisted), 16:39.
3rd period - 5, TB, Meszaros 2 (Fedoruk, Veilleux), 2:54; 6, SJ, Boyle 2 (Thornton, Marleau), 13:41, (pp). 7, TB, Stamkos 6 (Tanguay), 19:41, (en).
Penalties
1st period - Shelley, SJ (kneeing), 2:25; Meszaros, TB (cross checking), 7:38.
2nd period - Stamkos, TB (holding), 6:30.
3rd period - Lecavalier, TB (slashing), 12:22.
 
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 24 20
SJ - empty net 1 0
TB - Smith 34 32
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 11 12 11 34
TB 7 9 9 25
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 3
TB 0 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Steve Stamkos
Martin St Louis
Mike Smith
Attendence
13,343
Officials
Referees: Walkom, Walsh. Linesmen: Gibbs, Morin.

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