Game 17 recap: Lightning can't overcome slow start, lose to Sharks 2-1

A case of too little, too late for the Tampa Bay Lightning as they were unable to overcome a slow start, and an outstanding effort from San Jose goalie Antti Niemi,

The San Jose Sharks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday night.

A slow start that saw the Lightning looking unsteady, uncertain and just a tad off doomed them to a second consecutive loss.

"Well, I think it was more of what we didn't do. They're a good team but for whatever reason we didn't wake up until the third. Sometimes, I think we are overthinking plays and a couple of them cost us tonight, but we have to be more prepared to play." - Lightning forward Steven Stamkos.

Actually, the Lightning looked pretty good in the opening couple of minutes and then seemed to lose their focus, and in the process, wasted a great effort by goaltender Ben Bishop.

"Yeah, we rely on Bish quite a bit. He's been huge for us and kept us in games." - Lightning forward Brian Boyle.

On the other end, Antti Niemi was even more spectacular in net in helping the Sharks snap a two-game losing streak..

The first period ended in a scoreless tie with San Jose outshooting Tampa Bay 17-9.

The Lightning went the first four and a half minutes without a shot on goal to open the second period, even though nearly half of that time was spent with the man advantage.

At the 5:23 mark, a giveaway by Brian Boyle gave the puck to Joe Thornton who cashed in for the game's first goal.

The Sharks doubled the lead at 10:37 when Tyler Kennedy took advantage of a Lightning line change to break in on Bishop alone and score. He was assisted on the play by Brent Burns and Niemi.

Throughout the night, the Lightning were unable to generate offense, with far too many bad, ill-advised passes and shots that missed the net.

The Sharks carried the 2-0 lead into the second intermission, having outshot the Lightning 14-8 over the 20 minutes.

Three and a half minutes into the third saw the Lightning with 1:11 of a 5 on 3 power play and a golden opportunity to get back into the game. When San Jose successfully killed that off, the enthusiasm of the 19,004 on hand faded considerably. After that, there were lots of near misses that kept people in their seats, producing "ooh"s and "ah"s, but no points.

Niemi's shutout was erased and hope among the Lightning faithful was re-ignited when Stamkos scored at 9:35, deflecting Andrej Sustr's shot. Valtteri Filppula was credited with the secondary assist.

That's as close as things got, as the Lightning was unable to pull Bishop for the extra skater until there was less than a minute remaining, and even then, failed to mount a serious threat.

The Lightning will be in action again on Saturday when they host the New York Islanders.

Game notes:

  • This loss ended the Lightning's four-game home winning streak.
  • Alex Killorn returned to the lineup, notching 13:33 ice time over 17 shifts. Cedric Paquette was a healthy scratch.
  • Brendan Morrow and Eric Brewer were tonight's assistant captains.
  • The Lightning are now 9-8-0-1 at home against the Sharks.
  • Yes, the Lightning introduced their long-awaited, new black alternate "BOLTS" sweaters tonight. They'll wear them again on Saturday night.
  • The Lightning honored David Harris as the ninth Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game. Harris, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Computer Mentors Group. As Harris would ride the bus through some of the roughest neighborhoods in Tampa Bay to get to class at the University of South Florida, he recounted seeing hatred in the eyes of children he passed by. Consequently, he wanted to do everything in his power to show love to children in these underprivileged areas and give them hope and resources to lift themselves out of poverty. He felt that the best way to do this was to teach them skills that they would need to advance in society. He has carried out this mission by teaching at risk youth in the Tampa Bay community modern computer technical skills, such as web development, mobile application development, and videography while providing a safe haven for them to learn and practice these skill sets. Harris currently serves as the STEM Corps Program Director for Computer Mentors Group, a non-profit service organization comprised of technology professionals, and others interested in the career development of disadvantaged youth. Computer Mentors Group specializes in guiding at risk youth toward a career in the computer industry.