With a five-game road trip upcoming on the schedule, the Tampa Bay Lightning were hoping for a positive result Saturday night at AMALIE Arena against the San Jose Sharks before stepping on a plane Sunday bound for the New York/New Jersey metro area.
Banking points at home is imperative, especially considering the number of early-season games the Bolts have to play away from AMALIE.
Unfortunately, the Lightning's performance left a lot to be desired in a 3-1 loss to the Sharks, dropping them to 8-6-1 on the season.
Tampa Bay started slowly, fell behind 3-0 and never generated enough toward Sharks goalie Martin Jones to ever mount a serious comeback effort.
The Lightning will look to get back in the win column on Monday against a New York Islanders team they've defeated twice already this season.
But let's take a look at 3 Things that led to Saturday's disappointing loss to San Jose.
1. NOT ENOUGH PRESSURE ON JONES
Video: Condensed Game: Sharks at Lightning
Tampa Bay registered a season-low 26 shots on San Jose's goal.
On top of that, a majority of the shots weren't exactly of the highest quality.
Martin Jones has emerged as one of the better NHL goalies in his fourth year in the league, but he didn't have to show off too much of his skill as the Lightning rarely tested him severely.
On the odd occasion they did, Jones was more than up to the task.
"We have a lot of skilled players making a lot of nice plays, but they're not resulting in quality scoring chances," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. "Our line included, we can put some more pucks towards the net and open some space up, but, again, we didn't do enough to win."
After falling behind 3-0, the Bolts showed signs of coming to life when Anton Stralman scored his first goal of the season early in the third period. There was ample time for the Lightning to rally. The offense just wasn't there Saturday night.
"We showed a little spark in the third, especially when we got the goal, but then after we scored the goal, I'm not so sure we had two shots on goal for the rest of the game," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "You can't do that. We had the goalie pulled for three minutes and 45 seconds. We got zero shots on goal. You can't do that. You've got the extra guy out there. We need to create some scrambles and do some things around the net. You don't get a shot on goal, and it's really, really hard to come back. That last three-and-a-half minutes can pretty much sum up what happened for the first 57."
2. POWER OUTAGE
Video: SJS@TBL: Bishop turns away Donskoi's penalty shot
In Thursday's win over the New York Islanders, the Lightning used a mid-first period power play to erase a slow start, get the game's first goal and build momentum they would carry with them through pretty much the rest of the contest.
Against San Jose, however, whistles were few and far between.
The Lightning didn't go on their first power play until 10:53 of the second period and by that point already trailed 3-0. They got another man-advantage early in the third period but failed to capitalize on that one too.
The Sharks too weren't given many power-play opportunities. Joonas Donskoi was awarded a penalty shot 4:05 into the game that Ben Bishop was able to save. They got their lone power play midway through the second which they converted into their third goal.
San Jose entered Saturday's game as one of the NHL's best teams at not taking penalties. That drew the attention of Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan, who said there would be even more emphasis placed on special teams as a result.
"You know you're only going to get one or two power plays or one or two kills," Callahan said before the San Jose game, "So if you can capitalize on those situations, it's pretty big."
The Lightning weren't able to take advantage like they've done of late, and it cost them in a two-goal loss.
3. KEY PIECE GOES OUT
Video: SJS@TBL: Stralman jams home a loose puck
The Lightning can ill-advise to lose anybody along their back line, which isn't blessed with the depth the Bolts' have at forward.
But toward the end of the game, Anton Stralman doubled over in pain after shooting a puck from the right circle. After staying down on the ice for a bit and getting checked out by Tampa Bay head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan, Stralman headed down the tunnel to the locker room and didn't return.
His status going forward is unknown.
"It's not head-related. Let me just tell you that, it has nothing to do with it," Cooper said. "But we'll look at the evaluation here coming up."
Stralman has yet to miss a game this year, but it might be tough for him to make Monday's contest against the Islanders with just one day off before the game.