SAP CENTER — Todd McLellan cautioned after Friday’s comeback win over the Coyotes that the Sharks wouldn’t be able to overcome 2-0 deficits every game.
Turns out he was right.
The Sharks fell behind 2-0 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night and could not rally, ultimately falling 5-2.
McLellan, however, distinguished between the two games:
“This a little bit different than the other night. If you were there, you felt the emotion of the game. This was a lot different. I thought we had a pretty good first period. We got scored on late and that, obviously, didn’t do us any good. But we responded. We came out hard and played again. This 2-0 fall-behind is a lot different than the Arizona one.”
A goal 20 seconds into the third period by Ondrej Palat gave the Lightning a 3-1 lead. After Brent Burns failed to clear the zone, Palat fired a shot that took several bounces, including off Marc-Edouard Vlasic, then back off Burns, and past Antti Niemi.
Burns talked about how miscues are part of the game:
“It’s the game of hockey. There are mistakes on every goal. We played pretty hard, but it’s going to happen. It’s a game of mistakes. We don’t want to make them. You try to clean it up as much as possible.”
But it just wasn’t meant to be for the Sharks. With under four minutes to play, the Lightning scored yet again to put the game away. Cedric Paquette fired a wrist shot in from the right circle, and the Sharks trailed 4-2.
An empty-net goal by Ryan Callahan concluded matters.
Photos by Thomas Mendoza/SFBay
It wasn’t a one-sided game by any means, as the Sharks outshot the Lightning 35-32.
Yet, the Lightning took advantage of the Sharks’ sloppiness, something that Logan Couture is getting tired of:
“It’s so frustrating because the mistakes we’re making are things that we work on, things that we do in practice, things that we watch on video. No one’s going to be perfect, but when you’re constantly making the same mistakes every single night, that’s when you take a look in the mirror and wonder what you’re bringing, if you’re mentally prepared.”
“The mistakes we made tonight are things that should be fixed in week two or three of the season. That’s what training camp is for. You can make all the excuses in the world – we’re young, we’re inexperienced – it doesn’t matter. Our attention to detail is not where it needs to be.”
The Lightning took a 2-0 lead at 7:12 of the second period on Alex Killorn‘s 12th goal of the season, tipping in a shot by Callahan. Callahan took a feed from Steven Stamkos at the right face-off circle and wristed it, and the tip by Killorn went top shelf over Niemi’s left shoulder and in.
But a similar play from the Sharks cut the lead in half, as Couture’s wrist shot from dead-on beat Bishop three minutes later. Matt Nieto set up Couture with a pass from the right boards.
Scoring chances were galore for the Sharks later in the period. Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau had a 2-on-1 opportunity, but Pavelski could not get the shot off. With five minutes to play, a breakaway by Matt Nieto was thwarted by the stick check of Bishop. And Melker Karlsson was denied by Bishop after Pavelski found him open in front.
This game seemed closer than the score indicated. Said McLellan:
“We thought we did some good things tonight, but not enough of them … There was a lot of pace to this game – a lot of good plays that were made by both teams. They took advantage of some of our breakdowns and we didn’t quite get it done going the other way.”
The Sharks also had their fair share of chances in the first period, but it was the Lightning that capitalized first with just 14.7 seconds remaining. Stamkos, taking a pass from Anton Stralman at the top of the zone, rifled a one-time slapshot past a screened Niemi.
The lone power play of the period belonged to the Sharks, but they could not convert. Joe Thornton fed Logan Couture with a cross-ice pass, but Couture’s shot was stopped by Bishop. The penalty was created by a pinpoint feed from Brent Burns right to Pavelski’s stick up-ice for a breakaway, as Pavelski was hooked by Callahan.
Although the Sharks remain in second place in the Pacific Division with 66 points, Vancouver and Calgary trail them by just a point and have multiple games in hand. The defending champion Kings, with 62 points, are bound to make a late-season push.
It won’t get any easier for the Sharks, either, as they play the NHL’s best team — the Nashville Predators — on the road on Tuesday.
Couture noted the urgency that the Sharks need to play with, starting now:
“We need to get ourselves out of this if we want a chance to play past the regular season.”
The Sharks have lost five straight at home. … The EPIX crew was filming tonight’s game as part of its documentary on the Sharks and Kings leading up to next week’s Stadium Series game at Levi’s Stadium…McLellan recorded his 300th career victory Friday in Phoenix. … Before the game, the Sharks activated Vlasic, who had missed the last four games, from injured reserve. Defenseman Dylan DeMelo was reassigned to Worcester. … Entering the night, the Lightning led the league with 3.19 goals per game. … Attendance tonight was 17,562, a sellout.