The Sharks knew their south east swing was
going to be a tough road trip, if not the toughest trip of the season. Little
mistakes prevented them from scoring big points against big time opponents.
Tuesday night's finale against the Tampa Bay Lightning should have been a
turning point for a team that has struggled. Shoddy officiating played a
pivotal role in a 3-2 overtime loss at Amelie Arena, which ended the 1-1-2
The defending Stanley Cup Champion Lightning don't need any
extra help, but referees Jean Hebert and François St. Laurent called an
imbalanced game. They completely shifted the balance of the game in the
overtime when they negated what should have been a Sharks power play by calling
an embellishment infection on Timo Meier. Tampa took the next faceoff and won
the game on a Victor Hedman goal 2:45 into the extra period.
It was a
tough ending for a Sharks team that battled all night.
traded penalties in the opening period, but neither power play units could
generate any scoring. Tampa Bay held the advantage on the shot counter 9-7
after the first 20 minutes of play, and led in hits 17-16. The Sharks rarely
generate 16 hits in a game, much less in a period.
Tampa grabbed the
1-0 lead 1:32 into the 2nd period when Anthony Cirelli finished a rush that
required James Reimer to commit to Brayden Point on the right side. Cirelli
kept skating toward the net as defenseman Brent Burns floated back and was late
to deny the Lightning forward from depositing his 13th goal of the season into
a wide open net.
The Sharks answered 3 minutes later when Marc-Edouard
Vlasic fired in a shot from the right point. Rudolfs Balcers was loitering in
front of the net and was able to get a stick blade on the puck, redirecting it
past Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Reimer made a huge save just past the
midpoint of the period when he snuffed out a breakaway chance by Mathieu
Cal Foote took an interference penalty at 11:58 but the Sharks
could not generate any pressure on Vasilevskiy.
A slew of penalties
cost the Sharks late in the period. First Balcers was called for delay of game
after he lofted a puck over the glass at 16:02. Logan Couture was then sent off
for a lazy hooking penalty on Corey Perry. The Lightning scored right after
Balcers stepped out of the penalty box when Alex Killorn knocked a puck down in
the slot, pivoted to the net and lifted the puck past Reimer.
Meier tried to go hard to the net with 96 seconds left in the period, but he
was taken out by a Lightning defenseman, sliding into Vasilevskiy. Two
Lightning players went after Meier, and when the smoke cleared, Tampa Bay found
themselves back on the power play after Meier was called for goaltender
interference. He was also assessed a roughing penalty which was offset by a
similar call on Cirelli.
The Sharks started the 3rd period with Meier still
in the box, but Steven Stamkos was called for tripping Andrew Cogliano 31
seconds into the period. San Jose used the ensuing power play to tie the game
when Logan Couture tipped a Brent Burns shot for his 14th goal of the season.
San Jose dodge a bullet with 5 minutes left in regulation when Victor
Hedman rang a shot off the crossbar.
The Lightning really turned up
the heat in the last 4 minutes of regulation and owned the Sharks zone. San
Jose and Reimer denied Tampa forcing overtime hockey.
tripped in the overtime period by McDonagh, but referee Hebert called him for
embellishment. It was the turning point in the extra period because it gave the
Lightning the life hey needed to win the game. Game
* Defenseman Jake Middleton returned to the lineup after
missing the last 11 games due to a concussion he sustained against Detroit on
* Mario Ferraro returned to the lineup after missing
Sunday's contest in Carolina. The defenseman took a puck to the face, which
ended up costing him 3 teeth and a date with an oral surgeon on Sunday.
* Rudolfs Balcers scored his 4th goal in his last 5 games.
Logan Couture recorded a 2-point night, with a goal and the secondary assist on
* Due to the NHL's decision to bail on the Olympics, the
Sharks now have 2 weeks off until they resume their season on February 14th.