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Kennedy, Niemi send Sharks past Lightning

by Corey Long

TAMPA -- Tyler Kennedy scored his first goal of the season, and Antti Niemi made 32 saves to help the San Jose Sharks to a 2-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Thursday.

The Sharks (9-7-2) are 2-2-0 on their seven-game road trip; the Lightning (11-4-2) failed to earn a point for the first time in eight games (6-1-1).

"I thought we came out in the first period with a lot of energy, which is maybe something that is missed during the year," Sharks defenseman Scott Hannan said. "I thought we put together a good 60 minutes. We made the plays we needed to make. We are starting to come together and get after it for a full game."

Kennedy's goal at 10:37 of the second period gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead. Defenseman Brent Burns' pass gave Kennedy a breakaway when he was able to get behind the Lightning defense coming off a line change. He scored with a short wrist shot past goalie Ben Bishop.

Early in the third period, the Lightning had a two-man advantage for more than a minute when Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Tommy Wingels were penalized for tripping. The Lightning power play generated three scoring opportunities for Ryan Callahan in front of the net but Niemi made the saves.

"We take a lot of pride in our penalty kill," Wingels said. "And we know how good [the Lightning] are on the power play, so that was huge; we were able to keep the two-goal lead. You talk about everyone pulling their weight in a game and I think you saw that today. We were able to contribute with all our lines and we were able to do that from puck drop."

Jonathan Drouin's shot during the surge actually got past Niemi but stopped at the goal line and was cleared by the Sharks' defense.

"The puck really didn't bounce our way tonight," Drouin said. "We had a lot of opportunities and their goalie came up with the big stops. Sometimes that's the way it works."

The Lightning made it 2-1 at 9:35 of the third period when Steven Stamkos scored his 11th goal of the season. Defenseman Andrej Sustr took the puck at the point and sent a slap shot into a screen provided by Stamkos and Callahan. Stamkos redirected the shot beneath Niemi's pad.

"For whatever reason we didn't wake up until the third," Stamkos said. "Sometimes I think we are overthinking plays and a couple of them cost us tonight. I think it was more of what we didn't do … we have to be more prepared to play."

Joe Thornton gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead at 5:23 of the second period after stealing an errant pass by Lightning forward Brian Boyle in the offensive zone. Thornton scored on a wrist shot that got past Bishop on his stick side.

The Sharks outshot the Lightning 17-9 in a scoreless first period.

"I thought the first five minutes of the game we came out strong but the next 15 minutes things went south on us a little," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "And that's a credit to them for picking up their game and putting us on our heels. They were just better than us tonight."

Bishop finished with 37 saves for the Lightning, who will host the New York Islanders on Saturday. The Sharks play at the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"We had a couple of big games against [the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday] and tonight, and we took one of four points," Bishop said. "That's not good enough against the top teams. We have to get out of the gate a little quicker than we did tonight and not put ourselves in a position to try to make up for it in the third period."

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