Sharks at Lightning game preview
The San Jose Sharks haven’t allowed more than one goal in four straight games. The Tampa Bay Lightning have come up one short in their last four at home.
The Sharks will look to sweep a three-game road trip as well as the season series with the Lightning in Saturday’s matinee.
San Jose (30-12-6) won 2-1 in a shootout at Washington on Tuesday and 3-0 over Florida on Thursday for its first set of consecutive wins after an eight-game stretch of alternating victories and losses. The Sharks have yielded three goals over the last four games and have not surrendered one on the power play in six straight.
"When we put our mind to it and we really get committed to playing solid defense, good through the neutral zone, we can be a pretty tight group," coach Todd McLellan said.
Tampa Bay (28-15-5) has suffered one-goal losses in its last four home games with two coming in shootouts, including Thursday’s 2-1 defeat to the New York Islanders.
"If we’re going to play like that every single night at home, we’re going to win some games," coach Jon Cooper said. "Their goaltender played well. Ours played well. We gave up one goal. You should get points out of that, if not win the game."
One issue for the Lightning in this slide is a penalty kill that has yielded six goals in their opponents’ 10 chances over the last three home games. The Sharks may not be able to take advantage since they are 0 for 6 on the power play in their last three games.
Martin St. Louis scored against New York to extend his point streak to six games. His next point will tie him with Hall of Famer Larry Robinson at No. 87 on the NHL career list with 958.
Cooper will choose between Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback in goal. Bishop has started the last two games, stopping 62 of 64 shots, after being out with a sprained right wrist. Lindback, who started the previous four contests, has a dismal .870 save percentage in his last six games.
McLellan figures to turn back to regular starter Antti Niemi. The coach gave Alex Stalock his seventh career start Thursday, and the third-year goalie made 24 saves for his first career shutout.
The Sharks’ top line of Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Brent Burns produced two goals and three assists. Thornton, who leads the NHL with 45 assists, scored for the first time in 21 games to end the second-longest goal drought of his career.
"We’re playing well," Thornton said. "We feel like, I think we’ve got like 12 or 13 games before the Olympic break, so we really want to play some good hockey before that."
San Jose is enjoying a 7-1-1 run against Tampa Bay, winning 5-1 at home Nov. 21. Niemi made 36 saves, Tommy Wingels scored twice and Logan Couture had three assists.
Couture is out with a hand injury while Scott Hannan has missed two games with an upper-body injury.
Former Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle was held without a point in the last meeting after totaling six in the previous four.
Tampa Bay got some good news Thursday with the return of Steven Stamkos to practice, and the superstar expects to play before the Olympic break.
"Every day he’s getting closer," Cooper said.