Ben Bishop
Lightning-Sharks Preview
Ben Bishop

Lightning-Sharks Preview

Published Dec. 5, 2015 2:27 a.m. ET

Jon Cooper inked a multi-year contract extension on Friday to extend his coaching tenure with the Tampa Bay Lightning. A day later he hopes his team can take a step forward in its search for the type of success that got him there.

The Lightning have been inconsistent a year after Cooper led them to the Stanley Cup Finals, but they seek a fifth win in seven games Saturday night when they visit the San Jose Sharks.

Tampa Bay (12-11-3) rewarded its coach with a new deal, the terms of which were not released, after a franchise-record 50 wins last season before falling short of a championship against Chicago.

The Lightning, though, have not found much traction this season, though they started this three-game trek with a 2-1 win at Anaheim on Wednesday following losses to the Capitals and Islanders.


Tampa Bay snapped a three-game road losing streak.

"We had to stop the bleeding," Cooper told the team's official website. "To come on a trip like this and get two points early sure gives us a little momentum going in to San Jose."

Though a return this weekend for injured centers Tyler Johnson and Cedric Paquette and winger Ondrej Palat is doubtful, the Lightning did get defenseman Nikita Nesterov and winger Jonathan Drouin back against the Ducks.

Drouin opened the scoring in the second period to snap an 11-game scoring drought before adding an assist in his first action since Nov.14.

''Mentally, you just don't feel part of the group (while injured)," Drouin said. ''Coming back from injury, sometimes you're a little nervous, but I felt really comfortable.''

Tampa Bay won the last meeting 5-2 on Feb. 15 at San Jose, but the Sharks went 9-2-0 previously, including five consecutive home wins.

San Jose (14-11-0) has struggled at SAP Center this season with a 4-7-0 record and losses in four of five games entering Saturday - a brief stop at home before playing seven of eight on the road.

The Sharks, who have lost three of four, had their seven-game road winning streak snapped with Friday's 1-0 loss at Anaheim.

After scoring 12 goals in three games, San Jose has just one in consecutive losses. The Sharks were 0 for 4 on the power play against the Ducks.

"It would have been nice to get one on the power play," center Joe Thornton said. "We played, I thought, well enough to win, but unfortunately, we just didn't get any points out of it."

The Sharks will likely face the red-hot Ben Bishop, who has a 1.19 goals-against average while winning four of his last five starts. Bishop is just 1-2-1 in his career against San Jose with a 3.22 GAA.

Sharks goaltender Martin Jones suffered the loss against Anaheim after making 25 saves.


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