Sharks and Lightning clash in San Jose
The San Jose Sharks will try to stay unbeaten on their game homestand when they entertain the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight from HP Pavilion.
The Sharks have won the first two portions of the residency and recently sent Edmonton packing with a 3-2 loss Saturday behind goals from Patrick Marleau, Martin Havlat and Joe Thornton. Antti Niemi turned aside 23 shots for the Sharks, who improved to 10-6-1 at home and will also host Los Angeles, Anaheim and Vancouver.
"He made a good wrap on it and I was able to sneak in the back door and get the goal," Marleau said of his go-ahead score in the third period. "We've just been trying to simplify things and it's been working."
San Jose is tied with Phoenix for second in the Pacific Division -- two points behind the front-running Dallas Stars. Thornton ended a 13-game goal-scoring drought and Havlat is expected to miss tonight's game with a lower-body injury. Havlat was riding a 17-game goal-scoring famine before his recent tally.
"He'll be out at least through Christmas and then will be evaluated more in the next few days," Sharks coach Todd McLellan told the San Jose Mercury News. "It's probably a little bit more longer-term that we originally thought. But we won't put a timeline on it. It just happens. It was a freak accident. It happens to every team at some point and there's nothing we can do about it. We just have to get him healthy and get him back to how he was beginning to play."
The Lightning will continue a three-game road trip Wednesday and got the trek off to a good start with Saturday's 3-2 triumph in Columbus.
Steven Stamkos scored the eventual game-winning goal in the second period and added an assist, while Blair Jones and Eric Brewer also scored for Tampa Bay, which has won two straight and three of five games, and improved to 6-11-2 away from St. Pete Times Forum this season. Stamkos leads the league with 20 goals.
Former Blue Jackets goaltender Mathieu Garon made 26 saves
"I just wanted to play it as a regular game," Garon said of facing his former team. "I think we played a good game and getting the win was huge for us."
Tampa Bay will also visit Colorado on the trip and is only four points ahead of last-place Carolina in the Southeast standings. Lightning defenseman Matt Gilroy and center Nate Thompson are both questionable for this evening with lower-body injuries.
The Lightning and Sharks are playing the first of two matchups this season and will meet again down south on Feb. 16. The Sharks have won five of the last six meetings and three in a row at home in this series. Tampa Bay���s last win in San Jose was a 4-1 decision back on March 24 of the 2002-03 campaign.