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The San Jose Sharks returned to action against the Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday, following the All-Star Break.
The Sharks had struggled quite a bit prior to the break, winning just two of their last nine games to end January. While a win over the Pittsburgh Penguins did leave things off on a good note heading into the break, the team still wasn’t carrying a lot of momentum.
Jump to last night, the Sharks found themselves down right away against the Lightning, as Oskar Lindblom couldn’t get the puck out of the defensive zone and it got down low to Ross Colton, who tucked it past Kaapo Kahkonen only two minutes into the game. However, Erik Karlsson tied it back up shortly after on a power play, stepping into a one-timer off a faceoff and wiring it past Brian Elliott.
However, the Lightning re-took the lead shortly after, with Brayden Point firing a shot past Kahkonen on a Tampa Bay power play, making it a 2-1 game only midway through the first period. Then as the Lightning continued to outshoot San Jose throughout the frame, Point struck again later, as a puck bounced out to him in the slot, and he beat Kahkonen to make it a 3-1 game.
San Jose got into some penalty trouble in the second period but managed to escape with a few good penalty kills, before capitalizing on a power play opportunity of their own. Once again, the Sharks scored right off the faceoff on their man advantage, with Timo Meier burying a pass from Alexander Barabanov down low, cutting the lead to one. It did look like the Lightning had reinstated the two goal lead right after off a goal from Steven Stamkos but a coach’s challenge resulted in the goal being called back, keeping San Jose behind by only a goal.
Then only three minutes into the third period, Scott Harrington’s point shot was deflected off a stick and went in off Jonah Gadjovich, tying the game. Despite the Lightning controlling a lot of the period and outshooting San Jose 15-7 in the frame, the Sharks hung on to force overtime.
In the extra frame, Erik Karlsson then found Timo Meier with a great pass and Meier made no mistake, scoring on the open net, as the Sharks snuck away with the win.
Given how much San Jose struggled prior to the break, battling back to pick up a win against a good team on the road is a step in the right direction. By no means were the Sharks in control for much of the outing, but they hung around long enough and capitalized on their opportunities.
A key factor was that the Sharks won the special teams battle. San Jose took a ton of penalties but managed to go 5-for-6 on their kills, and it was good to see the Sharks’ penalty kill getting back on track. On the flip side, the Sharks also capitalized on two of their three power plays (and did so in quick fashion).
Kaapo Kahkonen also had to be good and won the goaltending battle, stopping 34 shots in the win. With James Reimer as a possible trade candidate, we could be seeing a lot more of Kahkonen through the rest of the year, if Reimer does get moved.
Speaking of trade candidates, it’s also probably not a bad thing for Timo Meier’s trade value to see him continuing to score, with two more goals in the win. At this point, the trade deadline is going to be a major focus for the Sharks and with Meier as the team’s biggest trade chip, there’s a lot riding on getting a good return in the deal.
The Sharks’ road trip will continue tomorrow, when they face the Florida Panthers.
OTHER ARTICLES FROM FEBRUARY
Analyzing the Ryan Merkley trade
Sharks trade Jaycob Megna to Kraken