An injured and exhausted Sharks roster almost seemed to hold their ground against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but a five goal third period sent the Sharks on their way without a point to show for the night.
The line up from San Jose was about as good as it could be for a team that is missing key pieces. Joonas Donskoi, Tim Heed, Melker Karlsson, and Mikkel Boedker all sat tonight, leaving some shuffling through out the line up. Martin Jones made his return from injury to mind the crease, as to be expected in a back-to-back against the top team in the league. Barclay Goodrow was also making a comeback, getting activated off injured reserve today.
Goodrow had a surprising impact. On an all-Barracuda fourth line with Ryan Carpenter and Danny O’Regan, Goodrow buried his first goal of the year into a wide open net off an O’Regan rebound.
The Sharks and Bolts continued to exchange chances. Though Tampa Bay had the better scoring chances, San Jose’s defense continued to be their biggest strength, keeping them at bay through the end of the period.
Coming out in the second, the Lightning knocked the air out of the Sharks’ lungs. Nikita Kucherov beat Martin Jones just 27 seconds into the period. The Lightning continued to test the Sharks, who were lucky to go into the third tied at one.
Of course, everything collapse for the Sharks in the third. Joe Thornton took a high sticking penalty with four seconds left in the second, so the league-best power play came into the third ready to go. Tyler Johnson capitalized, giving the Lightning their first lead of the game.
Four minutes later, Johnson came in again, putting the Lightning up by two. Just over halfway through the period, Cory Conacher widened the gap even further, scoring his second goal in only two games since being called up from the Syracuse Crunch.
Minutes later, a rare Justin Braun goal almost made it seem like the game could be back within reach — or at least, within a split, even though the Sharks looked absolutely gassed.
Braun's snipe to the net! pic.twitter.com/HBgCm3vz8B— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) December 3, 2017
But with four and a half minutes until they called it quits, Nikita Kucherov found the back of the net again on a breakaway, wrapping this one up 5-2.
- The Sharks hit three (3!) posts tonight, but they didn’t play well enough to deserve that puck luck.
- Nikita Kucherov is back to leading the league in goals, beating out Alex Ovechkin with his two goals tonight.
- Danny O’Regan had a two point night. Though he’s still searching for his first goal of the season, he’s tallied four points in seven games, quietly becoming an effective play-maker.
- Martin Jones was kept busy, stopping 38 of 43 shots. Meanwhile, Andrei Vasilevskiy only saw 27 shots, stopping 25.
- Despite the score being very similar to the last time these teams met (5-1), this game was very different. With a rested and healthy roster, this game could’ve been much closer. The Sharks weren’t able to overcome those circumstances tonight, something that will be tested down the stretch.