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Burns: 3 Things we learned from an end to the point streak

Beat writer Bryan Burns recaps Tampa Bay's 5-2 loss to the Sharks on Saturday night

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

Tampa Bay entered San Jose having won seven games in a row and riding a 16-game point streak.

But the Lightning's remarkable run came to an end against the Sharks, San Jose pulling away from the Bolts in the third period for a 5-2 victory Saturday night at SAP Center.

The Lightning lost in regulation for the first time since November 27, a stretch of 39 days where the Bolts registered at least one point each time they took the ice.

This day was bound to happen. The Lightning weren't going to win every game all the way through the end of the regular season.

Still doesn't make the loss any easier to swallow.

"At some point, things aren't going to go your way," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said following the defeat.

So why didn't things go the Lightning's way? What happened Saturday in San Jose that hadn't during their recent run?

We'll take a look at what went wrong for the Bolts with Three Things we learned from the end of the point streak.

1. NO GAS IN THE TANK
The Lightning had San Jose within their grasp entering the third period trailing just 3-2.

But as the final 20 minutes progressed, the Bolts had nothing left to give to mount a comeback.

Playing the last contest of a three-game, seven-day road swing through California, the Lightning simply looked exhausted in the final period. They managed only three shots on net in the third and totaled 20 for the game, a season low.

San Jose, meanwhile, grabbed hold of the game, putting up 17 shots in the final period, dominating possession and scoring twice to pull away from the league-leading Bolts.

"I just think as the game moved, we got tired," Cooper said. "It's only three games on this trip, but it's back-to-back out west and it's been a long trip for only three games. Guys gave it everything they had, and tonight wasn't our night. For 16 or 17 games, it was our night. Tonight, it wasn't."

San Jose's Evander Kane scored a little more than five minutes into the third period to build the Sharks lead back to two goals and make Tampa Bay's task that much more difficult. Kane shot from a tough angle on the left wing but still managed to sneak a puck through Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy for a backbreaking goal.

At the 12:20 mark of the third period, Lukas Radil put the game out of reach with his rebound goal that provided the Sharks a 5-2 lead.

With Tampa Bay unable to keep possession of the puck long enough in the third period to mount any sustained offensive zone time, a three-goal advantage was more than enough for San Jose.

"Give them credit, they skated, and it seemed like they got their legs more as the game went on and capitalized on their opportunities," Cooper said. "They're a good hockey team."

2. ALL-STARS SILENCED
Tampa Bay right winger Nikita Kucherov entered San Jose having scored in 12-consecutive games, a career high for a scoring streak.

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos had scored 16 goals in his previous 16 games coming into the contest and was the NHL's goal leader from December 1.

But against San Jose, both Lightning All-Stars were silenced by a Sharks squad intent on taking those two players out of the offensive equation for the Bolts and forcing others to step up and beat them.

Like they have all season, the Lightning did get contributions from different parts of the lineup.

Just not enough of them.

Victor Hedman scored off a rush as the trailing player entering the zone at 16:13 of the first period to cut into San Jose's two-goal lead and net the Lightning's first goal. With the Bolts trailing 3-1, Mikhail Sergachev finally scored his first goal of the season in game No. 42, breaking through at 4:53 of the second period, 30 seconds after Evander Kane put the Sharks back in front by two goals at 3-1.

"He's growing as a player," Cooper said of Sergachev's first goal of the season. "It wears on guys when they get some chances and they don't go in. When you go 41 games without one, I know it was weighing on him. Good on him to jump up in the play and get that one."

Unfortunately, the Lightning couldn't find enough supplemental scoring to replace Kucherov and Stamkos. Kucherov didn't have a shot on goal for the game and finished minus-4. Stamkos had a big night in the face-off circle, winning 12-of-15 draws, but registered just one shot.

One combined shot from your 2019 All-Stars isn't going to complete the job, especially with San Jose playing some of its best hockey of the season right now having won three out of four games and recording at least one point in five of six games prior to playing the Lightning.

3. SPECIAL TEAMS SWOON
Haven't had to say this at all during the Lightning's now-finished point streak, but specials teams failed to deliver in San Jose and contributed to the 5-2 loss.

Less than five minutes into the second period with the Bolts trying to level the score, the Sharks drew a slashing call on Anton Stralman, and, with 16 seconds left on the man-advantage, Evander Kane took a shot from beyond the right circle that beat a screened Vasilevskiy.

Meanwhile, the Lightning had a pair of power plays of their own, including a critical power play late in the game when down by two goals, and not only were they denied quality scoring chances on both but they couldn't even generate any momentum from them.

After their final power play expired midway through the final period, Radil scored the clinching goal to end any Lightning comeback hopes.

Coming into San Jose, the Lightning had connected on 37.3 percent of their power-play chances during their 16-game point streak, the best power-play percentage in the NHL over that stretch by a wide margin. The Bolts' penalty kill was equally as good, the unit's 86.7 percent kill rate also the best in the League during the run.

But both those units struggled in San Jose, and, as a result, the Lightning could never shift momentum its way in defeat.

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