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Steven Stamkos ruins Nabby's shutout... but why dwell on the negative? Sharks tame Lightning 7-1, go 20-0-2 at home

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The "surging" Tampa Bay Lightning, winners of 3 of their last 4 games before entering the HP Pavilion tonight for the first time since January 17, 2006 (nearly 3 years to the day), had the opportunity to defeat all 3 Californian teams in a single trip with a victory over the Western Conference's best team.  The Bolts had beaten Anaheim and Los Angeles before heading north to attempt to write their CA victories in triplicate. 

Such an improbably successful road trip would no doubt boost the morale (and, um, attendance) of one of the NHL's cellar dwellers, who were blanked 3-0 by the Sharks at the St. Pete Times Forum back in October.  (P.S. - someone I know sure had a swell time!)

On the bright side for Tampa Bay, they (namely Steven Stamkos) eliminated any possibility of dual shutouts at the hands of San Jose, and they even killed 5 penalties (including a 5-on-3!).  They also put up 25 shots on goal - 3 more than they managed on October 25.  And hey - they also have a Stanley Cup banner fluttering in their rafters!

The bad news?  Over the course of two games this season against San Jose, the Bolts have been outscored 10-1.  But hey - that's good news for us! 

(On a totally unrelated topic - remember how various cities tried to unseat Detroit as "Hockeytown"?  Why can't the Bay Area usurp the title that the Lightning bestows upon itself - "Hockey Bay"?  Just a selfish thought...)

First Period

Jeff Halpern won the opening faceoff against Joe Pavelski - but it was largely downhill from there for Tampa Bay.

Devin Setoguchi opened San Jose's scoring barrage with his 20th goal of the season at 2:17.  The Gooch was set up from Joe Thornton behind the net, and wristed the Sharks' 4th shot of the very young evening past rookie netminder Karri Ramo.  A scoring change was announced later in the game, awarding a secondary assist to Douglas Murray, doubling the tree's man's point totals this season.

Tampa Bay managed their first and second shots of the evening in a 10-second period beginning at 2:42, while the Sharks' #2 line (Michalek-Pavelski-Clowe) was on the ice. 

Christian Ehrhoff was called for hooking at 5:50, and the Bolts went on the first power play of the evening.  With 23 seconds left in the man advantage, Nabokov made a stellar glove save on Mark Recchi's shot.  Down 4-0 at one point in shots, Tampa had surpassed San Jose 6-5, though still without anything to show for it.

Douglas Murray, bulldozer that he is, knocked down former Penguin Ryan Malone at the boards, in a precursor of things to come.  Malone, you might recall, beat the snot out of Ryane Clowe in Tampa in October.

After San Jose managed two quick shots at 11:05, Douglas Murray again upended Malone just inside the Sharks' zone.  This prompted Malone's linemate Jeff Halpern to egg Murray on for a fight.  Gloves were removed, a helmet (Murray's) was tossed, but no punches were thrown, as Halpern slid and fell with Murray stumbling on top of him.  Both men earned 2 minutes for roughing, creating a 4-on-4 scenario.

During the 4-on-4, Dan Boyle was tripped up by defenseman Vladimir Mihalik, and STILL managed to get off a pass to (I believe) Devin Setoguchi in the process of going down.  With Mihalik in the penalty box, the Sharks would go on the 4-on-3 for just 21 seconds - but 14 seconds were all that was needed, as Joe Thornton put San Jose up 2-0, when his pass intended for Patrick Marleau found the back of the net behind Ramo.  Marleau and Rob Blake earned the assists, at 14:19.

The rest of the period would feature some nice passing from Christian Ehrhoff to Mike Grier, as well as good work from Devin Setoguchi playing the point.  The shots on goal at the buzzer were 17-8, in favor of San Jose.

Second Period

Tampa Bay was not intent on giving the game up just yet.  They did their best to make do with what was given them - including a turnover from Setoguchi.  Nabokov made several glove saves before an apparent goal from Milan Michalek went into the net at 6:18.  The puck went off of Michalek's skate and past Ramo's stick side, before extensive video review determined that Michalek had kicked the puck into the net, nullifying the goal.

With momentum on their side, the Bolts' #1 draft pick of 2008, Steven Stamkos, tipped in a shot from Mark Recchi.  Nabokov had come out of his crease while Stamkos waited in the slot.  Evgeny "Your Evgeni is Spelled Wrong" Artyukhin earned the secondary assist.

Tampa Bay continued their surge, and compiled 6 shots to San Jose's 1 in the period. 

However, Joe Thornton's amazing display of speed to bring the puck into the zone ultimately led to his second goal of the night, for his first multi-goal game since last season.  Thornton positioned himself to Ramo's right, and wristed in the rebound off of Devin Setoguchi's shot.  Patrick Marleau also assisted.  The Sharks had taken a 3-1 lead to reestablish control of the game, on their 21st shot, at 10:00.

Artyukhin was called for slashing at 11:06, and the Sharks went on their second power play of the evening.  Joe Thornton was tripped up early on (by whom, I cannot say), but the expected call was not given. 

Tampa Bay managed to kill that penalty, but just five seconds later they were given a bench minor for too many men, at 13:11.  Stamkos served the minor as the Sharks went on their third power play.  Ramo made a terrific save on Marc-Edouard Vlasic, sliding to his left to block the shot, at 13:56.  At the end of the power play, San Jose's shot total was 26 to Tampa's 14. 

Just 19 seconds after Tampa Bay killed their second consecutive penalty, the Sharks went on the power play yet again, when Ryan Malone was called for slashing at 15:30.  After Nabokov made a huge save on a shorthanded drive and rebound, he had the foresight to play the puck. 

Though it had little to do with Nabokov's play, Milan Michalek assured the Teal Town faithful that the Sharks' power play was not insufficient, by legitimately scoring his tenth of the season.  Marc-Edouard Vlasic put the puck on net, while it found Jonathan Cheechoo's stick en route.  While the puck was loose in front of Ramo, Michalek jabbed away at the bit of vulcanized rubber, sending it past the Finnish goaltender at 17:21.  In less than 40 minutes, the Sharks had delivered another 17,496 free personal pan Round Table pizzas to their fans (and, as a show of good will, visiting Lightning supporters).  The score was now 4-1.

In the waning seconds of the period, at 19:42, Bolts captain Vincent Lecavalier was called for interference, and the Sharks took 14 seconds to improve upon their lead.  Joe Pavelski made a no-look behind-the-back pass to Ryane Clowe in the slot, who wristed it home.  The Sharks would close the period by being up 5-1, with 30 shots to Tampa's 18. 

Third Period

Just 34 seconds into the period, Joe Pavelski would get his 12th goal of the season, after Douglas Murray put the puck on net for Milan Michalek to play with.  Murray's assist effectively tripled his point output coming into tonight's game, while Pavelski's goal was his first since December 2, against Toronto.

That goal came on San Jose's first shot of the period.  The next shot would prove equally potent.  Alexei Semenov, playing as a left wing once again, sent the puck around the boards to Brad Staubitz, who shot it to Tomas Plihal, whose stick deflected the puck high into the net.  Plihal's goal was his 5th of the season.  San Jose now led 7-1 at 2:12.  The fact that Ramo was not pulled for Mike Smith probably speaks volumes about the futility that Coach Barry Melrose Rick Tocchet felt at that moment.

Just over 7 minutes later, Joe Pavelski was called for hooking, at 9:28.  The Sharks would go on their second penalty kill of the night.  Mike Grier had a nice shorthanded rush, but what ultimately made the power play memorable was the behavior of those involved.  Mike Grier threw his gloves and wanted to exchange blows with Evgeny Artyukhin, who earned a roughing penalty.  Grier's punishment was 2 minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, at 10:43.  Tampa Bay was still on the 5-on-4. 

Just after Pavelski was released from the bin, the stands of the HP Pavilion came alive with the defeaning chant, "Let's go Grier!" in support of the Shark still in the penalty box.  Apparently the denizens of Teal Town were not content with the two teasers of a fight thus far...

As if matters couldn't get worse for a team down 1-7, Vaclav Prospal was called for interference at 13:45, and then dealt a 10-minute game misconduct, sending him to the locker room.  Steven Stamkos sat down in the penalty box to serve his time.

The penalties were far from over - Andrej Meszaros was called for cross checking at 14:55, creating a 5-on-3 for San Jose.  At 15:33, that 5-on-3 was extended to a minute and 22 seconds, when David Koci earned a minor for cross checking, as well as a 10-minute game misconduct like Prospal. 

Despite key chances and attempts, San Jose did not convert during the 5-on-3, but the end result was just the same - a loss for the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Final score = 7-1, San Jose.  Shots on goal - 42-25.

Nerd Notes

  • The San Jose Sharks once again break their own NHL record for most 40+ shots-on-goal games in a season... I don't even know the number by now.  Ask That'll Cheech You.  Also ask him about the number of 4+ goal games... it's not going to be "Four in the Net" much longer, I can tell you that much.
  • On his physical manner of play, #3 star of the night Douglas Murray was quoted as saying, "It's something I try to do at every game."  Well, obviously!
  • Joe Pavelski (6) and Vaclav Prospal (5) led their respective teams in shots on goal.  Rob Blake also had 5.
  • The faceoff win percentage tells a lot - San Jose won over 67% of them (37 to 18).
  • Dan Boyle topped all players of his past and present teams in TOI, with 26:58.  Marek Malik had 26:30, and Andrej Meszaros 26:23.
  • Paul Szczechura (3:10) and Alexei Semenov (8:43) led their respective teams in lowest TOI.  Szczechura left the ice in the second period with a lower body injury.
  • Dan Boyle (former Bolt that he is) and Douglas Murray each were a plus-3 tonight.
  • The Sharks on ice for Stamkos' goal = Grier, Goc, Cheechoo, Ehrhoff, and (ouch) Joslin.

The Sharks return to their "lucky" BlackArmor jerseys Thursday night against the visiting Calgary Flames.  Keep an eye out for this guy as well... who might have to ditch his own lucky outfit if the Flames pull a number on us like the last time we tangled.

GO SHARKS