In many ways, this game was similar to the other contests the Lightning have played so far on this road trip. It was another contest in which the Lightning defended hard, limited opposition shots and scoring chances and gave themselves a chance to get points.
Unfortunately, they weren't able to convert on enough of their own scoring chances against Sharks goalie Aaron Dell, who held the Lightning to one goal on 25 shots. And despite their strong overall defensive performance, they did allow two goals and, as a result, didn't get any points out of the game.
Really, though, the story of the game was Dell, who was making just his seventh start of the season. He made several tough saves on Lightning attempts in the first, including looks for Ondrej Palat, Brian Boyle and Alex Killorn. His first period work kept the game scoreless after one.
The Lightning did not have many defensive lapses in this game, but they struggled to start the second. They lost a number of consecutive defensive zone faceoffs and endured some long shifts in their own end. While the Lightning have cut down drastically their number of turnovers during the past several games, they committed two costly, unforced turnovers on the shift that led to San Jose's opening goal. After the Sharks were given two extra chances to keep the puck into the offensive zone, they worked it around nicely and Ryan Carpenter slapped home a shot from the right circle.
That was the only dip the Lightning sustained in the period, though. On the shift after the Carpenter goal, the Lightning pushed back and drew an offensive zone penalty. During that power play, Jonathan Drouin scored a highlight-reel goal. After he couldn't control a drop pass from Brian Boyle, the puck slid out to the neutral zone. Drouin, seemingly annoyed that the puck had gotten past him initially, grabbed it and zoomed back into Sharks end. He sped past Mikkel Boedker, cut around Marc-Edouard Vlasic and tucked a forehand past Dell.
The Lightning controlled much of the rest of the frame and had several chances to take the lead. But they couldn't finish those chances, including a Nikita Nesterov shot off the crossbar.
As was the case Tuesday in Anaheim, the Lightning entered the third period tied at one. But in this game, they surrendered a third period goal. It came on the opening shift. After a puck battle behind the Lightning net, the puck slid towards the slot. The Bolts lost coverage on Logan Couture, who got to it first and hurried a quick shot that slid through the pads of Andrei Vasilevskiy. It wasn't all that different from many of the Lightning's close-call misses earlier in the game. Except that this one wasn't a close-call miss.
The Lightning only had five shots in the third, but they still did generate some good looks. The best of those came on a Valtteri Filppula wraparound chance. Dell lost his stick as he scrambled from post-to-post in stopping the Filppula shot, but he managed to keep the puck out and preserve his team's 2-1 lead.
The Lightning's last chance to tie the game came in the closing seconds with the extra attacker on the ice. But Killorn's attempt from the slot just skipped wide. That final close-call miss summed up the Lightning's night.
The regulation loss hurts, but the Lightning have to keep plugging away. As I've mentioned in the past five Extra Shift columns, if the Lightning keep defending this way, they're going to give themselves a chance to get points. They've held the opposition to 10 goals in the last five (and one of those was an empty-netter). They'll look to keep up their sound, defensive play Saturday in Arizona.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
- Aaron Dell - Sharks. 24 saves.
- Jonathan Drouin - Lightning. Goal.
- Logan Couture - Sharks. GWG.