Lightning start up five-game swing against Sharks

( - The Tampa Bay Lightning aim to get their five-game road trip off to a winning start on Sunday night as they visit the San Jose Sharks.

The Lightning have hit a bit of a bump in the road this month, going 2-2-2 through their first six games of February. They were routed 6-3 by the St. Louis plays last time out on Thursday and have fallen two points behind the Montreal Canadiens for first place in the Atlantic Division with two more games played.

Tampa Bay lost for only the second time in its past 13 home games with the loss to St. Louis despite goals from Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson and Brett Connolly.

However, goaltender Ben Bishop was pulled after two periods for allowing five goals on 34 shots. Andrei Vasilevskiy halted all nine shots he faced in relief.

"It's the effort," said Stamkos. "We have the skill and the talent that is going to put us over the top. It's just the details. And we weren't prepared for that at the beginning of the game."

It is unknown who will start in net tonight with the Lightning also set to visit the Los Angeles Kings on Monday. Forward Cedric Paquette, though, is in line to return after the missing the previous two games with an upper-body injury.

Paquette had potted six goals in seven games prior to getting hurt.

The Lightning are 1-3-2 in their past six on the road and have not won in San Jose since March 24, 2003. They have lost five straight as the guest in this series since.

The Sharks have won three straight and are 9-1-1 in the past 11 meetings overall with the Bolts.

San Jose is 11 points behind first-place Anaheim in the Pacific Division and owns just a one point edge over Vancouver and Calgary for second place. The Sharks haven't done themselves any favors as of late, dropping three in a row and going 1-3-2 in their previous six games before a 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.

Joe Pavelski recorded his fourth career hat trick and Barclay Goodrow had the go-ahead goal 6:23 into the third period for the Sharks, while Joe Thornton posted three assists.

Antti Niemi made 34 stops in the win.

"I like this win for us," Sharks center Tommy Wingels said. "I hope we can look at this game and say we came close together as a team."

Despite playing without defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic for a fourth game in a row because of an upper-body injury, the Sharks finally got head coach Todd McLellan his 300th victory. He became the second-fastest coach to reach the mark, doing so in 515 games and coming in just behind Bruce Boudreau (496).

Niemi is 5-0-1 lifetime versus the Lightning with a 2.31 goals against average and .916 save percentage in six meetings.