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View From the Seats: A night in Tampa with the Sharks

One writer’s perspective from the not-so-cheap-seats.

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I talked about this a little bit in the game thread last night as well as the game recap, but I was able to make trip down to Tampa to the see the Sharks vs. Lightning game last night. I had relatively good seats in the corner on the side that the Sharks were attacking twice.

I thought that the Sharks started off fairly well and created some good pressure early on. I would have liked to see Joonas Donskoi score on that penalty shot early in the first period, but it didn't matter considering that they still managed to score first on Patrick Marleau's goal. I had a good view of the goal, but I didn't see the puck go into the net at all.

In fact, most of the fans in the arena had no idea what was going on. The scoreboard was slow to show replays, so we didn't really get to see a replay of the goal in question until the second review. As expected, when the referee announced that it was a goal, the 19,000 or so Lightning fans showered the referees with boos.

Both teams went back and forth for the rest of the period until Chris Tierney received a well-placed bank pass of the boards from Melker Karlsson entering the zone and found an open Tommy Wingels, who slotted it past Ben Bishop's glove for the goal to put the Sharks up 2-0 in the first. It's amazing to see a play like this from ice level just considering how fast this play was. It was a little tough to see the zone entry because it was difficult to see the puck along the boards on that side due to the angle of my seats, but I thought that was a great play by all three forwards on that line.

In the second period, it was still a relatively even game, though the Lightning were winning the shot counter. This even play continued until the Sharks received their only power play of the game after Vladimir Namestnikov high-sticked Joonas Donskoi. Though this power play was on the opposite side of the ice, I thought that the Lightning did a pretty good job against the Sharks' first power-play unit.

However, they definitely gave Marc-Edouard Vlasic way too much time to shoot, allowing him to put the Sharks up 3-0. This was just a great shot by Vlasic, but it looked to me like Bishop was getting screened by three of his own defenders. There was simply not enough pressure on Vlasic and they did nothing but obstruct the view of their own goaltender.

The Lightning continued to create chances in the attacking zone, but Martin Jones kept the puck out of the net. When the Lightning had their first of two power plays in the second period, the Sharks penalty kill did a fantastic job of preventing any serious scoring chances, blocking passing lanes and shots, and managing to clear the puck to make changes.

The Sharks would enter the third period up 3-0, but immediately gave the Lightning a powerplay after Joe Pavelski high-sticked Cedric Paquette, but the Sharks' penalty kill would again prove to be too much for the Lightning's red-hot power play, giving the Sharks another kill on the night. Again, this was the opposite side of the ice from where I was sitting, but it looked to me like the Sharks penalty kill wasn't giving up a whole lot of looks for the Lightning.

The Lightning would break the resistance after Alex Killorn's goal with 14 minutes to go, but Martin Jones played very well the rest of the period to keep the Sharks' lead at 3-1. He made some key saves down the stretch and the Sharks would prevail 3-1. Interestingly enough, the Lightning pulled their goalie with more than three-and-a-half minutes to go but failed to get a single shot on goal.

While the Lightning were winning the shot battle, I thought the Sharks' defense did a great job in suffocating the Lightning's top line and preventing quality scoring chances. Before last night, the Sharks had struggled against younger, faster teams (see: the Rangers and Penguins), but I thought that they did well in countering the Lightning's speed. There were a few odd-man rushes from the Lightning entering the zone, but the Sharks' defense did a great job in not giving their forwards a lot of space to work with. Jake touched on it earlier today, but Stamkos's line was practically invisible last night.

Thumbs Up:

Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun:

Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun were spectacular last night, which is pretty much what we have come to expect from this pairing. I thought Justin Braun had gotten off to a bit of a rough start to this season, but these two were solid against Stamkos and company.

The fourth line of Wingels/Tierney/Karlsson

The Sharks have struggled to find chemistry so far this season, but I think that they have found their fourth line. For the second game in a row, Tommy Wingels has scored a game-winning goal and that has really helped lift some of the weight off the top two lines' figurative shoulders. I really like Chris Tierney on the fourth line and I think that these three have some solid chemistry. Melker Karlsson limped off the ice after blocking a shot in the first period, which from my perspective sounded like it hurt quite a bit, but his pass to Tierney entering the zone on the second goal was nice.

Martin Jones:

After a rocky start to the season, Martin Jones has really found his game on this road trip. Through three games, the Sharks have outscored their opponents 10-3, and he has been a big reason why they have only allowed three goals so far. This was my first time seeing him play up close and I was quite impressed with his play last night. He still has that calming effect on his teammates and always seems to be in the right position to make the save. Hopefully though, they give him a rest against Carolina.

Thumbs Down:

Brent Burns:

I don't say this a lot about Brent Burns, but he didn't play well last night. Last night's game was Burns' first as a Shark without a single shot attempt. He didn't seem like he was part of the offense at all last night and I don't really think that he played that well defensively either. On the breakout, he kept trying to chip the puck over everyone from his own zone and it just seemed to either result in a turnover or an icing. This just wasn't his night.

Mikkel Boedker:

It just feels like the Sharks just don't have a good fit for him so far. I didn't see anything too noticeably bad from him last night, I just continue to be unimpressed. I hope to see him get some more powerplay time and I think that he just needs to consistently stay with the same players rather than mixing him up for each game. Nothing bad last night, but he still can't find his way onto the scoreboard and I don't recall him creating anything dangerous offensively last night.


While I just ragged on Burns, I did catch a warmup puck from him last night, which is pretty cool, or at least I think so. There aren't many players who enjoy their fans as much as Burnzie does.

This was my second Sharks game in Tampa, my first being when Martin St. Louis scored 4 goals, but was countered by Joe Pavelski's hat trick along with goals from Matt Nieto and I think Patrick Marleau for 5-4 Sharks win. Last night wasn't as interesting, but still a good time.

Yes, 19,000+ people go to a hockey game in Florida. The Lightning are now regularly selling out their home games. But I guess hockey doesn't belong in Florida or something.

Tonight was my first experience having a beer thrown at me, so that was fun. Right at the end of the game, a Lightning fan dropped his beer on me from the second level, getting both my seat and my blank 2013 Sharks jersey wet. But who really won here?