TAMPA -- What could be more bittersweet than tying a record that has stood since the first game in franchise history and seeing your team lose? For Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis, the answer is nothing.
"The loss takes a lot out of it, no doubt," St. Louis said after his career day was spoiled when the San Jose Sharks defeated the Lightning 5-4 on Saturday afternoon. "We put ourselves in a good spot. Our power play was going. We were up 4-2 against a pretty good San Jose team. There was a lot of game left but I like our chances up two against anybody. We didn't keep pushing. We took penalties and didn't kill it and the next thing you know we come in [after the second period] down a goal. It's definitely deflating. We just didn't get it done."
It was the first four-goal game of St. Louis' career, and the first by a Lightning player since Chris Kontos scored four against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 7, 1992, in Tampa Bay's first regular-season game.
But it wasn't enough. After St. Louis scored three in a row to give the Lightning a 4-2 lead, Joe Pavelski scored three times in a 6:12 span late in the second period for his first NHL hat trick.
"Pavelski was in the right place at the right time," San Jose captain Joe Thornton said. "All three were just the right place at the right time."
Pavelski had to wait to see if he'd actually gotten the third goal. The credit for the goal was changed three times before it was finally awarded to Pavelski.
"That third one, no one knows who got that one," Pavelski said. "There were a couple of sticks there and we all hit it."
Pavelski's first, at 12:48 of the second period, came after a stretch of sustained pressure by the Sharks. He scored again 21 seconds later, eight seconds after Tampa Bay defenseman Eric Brewer was called for hooking. The hat trick goal, with one minute remaining in the period, was a shot that hit several legs and sticks before finding the back of the net.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper was left shaking his head after his team's fifth consecutive home loss.
"It's disastrous," Cooper said of having a player four goals and lose, something that hadn't happened in the NHL since Marc Savard scored four goals for the Calgary Flames in a 6-5 loss to the St. Louis Blues on April 5, 2000. "If you tell me before the game that we're going to score four, regardless if Marty got all four of them but that made it all that more special, but you're going to score four goals in two periods and come out on the wrong end of the score, that hasn't happened to us too often. It's frustrating."
St. Louis was responsible for all of Tampa Bay's first-period scoring; his eighth career hat trick sent the Lightning off the ice with a 3-2 lead.
Matt Nieto scored from the low slot 9:46 into the game to give the Sharks the lead. After St. Louis tied at 11:56 with a power-play goal, Patrick Marleau scored 56 seconds later when he fired through a screen and beat Ben Bishop.
Then St. Louis took over.
He had a breakaway attempt stopped by Antti Niemi's right pad but stayed with the puck and swiped a backhander into the net at 15:44 to tie the game for the second time. Bishop was credited with an assist, his second of the season.
St. Louis completed his hat trick with 30 seconds left in the period when he batted the puck into the net from outside the crease. He scored three times in 8:43 and had the second three-goal period of his career; the first came Oct. 26, 2006 against the Carolina Hurricanes.
St. Louis' fourth goal came 2:07 into the second period on a power play. Teddy Purcell found him alone in the left circle, and St. Louis didn't miss his one-timer.
But the Sharks didn't give up.
The five goals by San Jose was the second time Bishop allowed more than two goals in his past 18 starts. Niemi finished with 25 saves; Bishop made 27.
"I noticed from before he scored the first goal, I thought to myself 'he's flying today' and he scores three in the first and one in the second," Bishop said of St. Louis. "It's tough when you have one guy playing that hard and the rest of the team let him down there."
San Jose (31-12-6) swept a three-game road trip against the Eastern Conference.
"We talked that we were going to play all the way through," Pavelski said. "We've ended road trips with losses but we wanted to be able to clean-sweep one for a change. It was a weird game the way pucks were going into the net and the game was folding out, so we just had to get back to skating, laying pucks in deep and playing our hockey."
The Lightning are in the midst of five games in seven days. It is the first time since the 1995-96 season that Tampa Bay (28-16-5) has played that many games in a week.
Defenseman Victor Hedman was hit in the ankle by a shot in the third period and was helped off the ice to the locker room. He did not return.
"He's got a little bit of a stinger," Cooper said. "He took a pretty good shot off the leg. Definitely couldn't come back today so we will see about tomorrow [against the Carolina Hurricanes]. I'd be remiss if I said he was going to play [Sunday]."