The most significant - and controversial - play in this game happened at the 7:18 mark of the first period. Patrick Marleau attempted to come in on a breakaway. Ben Bishop stopped Marleau's initial shot. As the puck hit off Bishop's pad, Brayden Point, Marleau and Andrej Sustr all came into the crease and collided with Bishop. The puck ended up in the net and the net was knocked loose.
As the officials conferred about the play, fans in the building weren't sure what was going on. Were they checking to see if the net came loose before the puck crossed the line? To determine if Bishop's pad was pushed in the net with the puck (which would have negated a goal)? Was there goalie interference? First, referee Dan O'Halloran announced it was a no-goal. Then, after a San Jose coach's challenge, he said it was a goal.
It was only after the first period ended and the second had nearly begun that the NHL explained what had happened. First, the Toronto War Room looked to see if the puck entered the net before the posts came off. It did. Then, O'Halloran indicated there was incidental contact on Bishop (goalie interference), so the goal was disallowed. Peter DeBoer challenged the call and league officials determined that Point, not Marleau, had interfered with Bishop, so the goal would count.
We can argue whether the league made the right call here. It's fair to suggest that Marleau's presence in the crease also had an impact on the play and affected Bishop's ability to keep the puck out of the net. But the league felt differently. A tough break for the Lightning, but that's the way it goes sometimes.
What was not OK was how the whole thing unfolded in the building. The on-ice officials did not do a good job of explaining to the fans what was happening. Therefore, after the 10-minute delay of the two reviews, Lightning fans were stunned and confused as to why the call was overturned. (Many left Amalie Arena at the end of the game still not understanding what had happened). The sequence of events effectively sucked the life out of the building. A building that had been rocking at the start and had been treated to exciting hockey in the opening seven minutes. Make no mistake, the change in the building's atmosphere had an impact on the game. Within a few minutes, the Sharks scored again and had built a 2-0 lead.
Those early events forced the Lightning into catch-up mode for the rest of the night. The Sharks defended very well with the lead - an advantage they would extend with a second period power play goal. Goaltender Martin Jones was terrific in denying the scoring chances the Lightning did generate, both before the Marleau goal and after.
The defeat left a sour taste - which is not to say that the Sharks weren't deserving of the victory. They were. But the fans deserved better from the on-ice officials.
The Lightning need to put this one behind them because they begin a five-game road trip on Monday in Brooklyn. As always, they'll look to come home with more points than games played.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
- Martin Jones - Sharks. 25 saves.
- Tommy Wingels - Sharks. Goal.
- Cedric Paquette - Lightning. Assist.