TAMPA — The Lightning found a new way to fall behind Saturday night.
San Jose's first goal counted only after two reviews, including a coaches challenge and a deflating 10-minute delay.
"It's no excuse," captain Steven Stamkos said.
By then, just seven minutes into the game at Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay had already given up a breakaway and a penalty shot. The story of Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Sharks in front of a sellout crowd of 19,902 fit the theme for the Lightning's season of inconsistency. It gave up the first goal for the 10th time in 15 games.
"I think we need to play with a little bit more of an … attitude," goalie Ben Bishop said. "We need more determination and grit to start. We're kind of waiting until we fall behind, and then we get that swagger back and kind of start pushing. We're kind of waiting to get hit first."
The Lightning (8-6-1) got hit first in a weird way Saturday on Patrick Marleau's controversial first Sharks goal.
Marleau and the Lightning's Brayden Point and Andrej Sustr crashed into the Lightning crease, knocking goalie Ben Bishop down and the net off its magnets. There was an initial review to see if the puck went in before the net came off, and it was ruled the puck did, but "incidental" contact between Marleau and Bishop made it a no goal due to goaltender interference.
Not so fast. The Sharks issued a coaches challenge on the goalie interference. The second review found that Point, not Marleau, had made the contact that resulted in the goal, so good goal.
"Not much I can do about it," Bishop said. Said Point: "I tried to help; maybe I shouldn't have there. A lucky bounce."
You could also say the Sharks earned the goal. Cooper pointed out that Marleau won a 50-50 battle for the puck with two Lightning players. Cooper said the Sharks were playing fast, north-south hockey and the Lightning was more deliberate. Case in point: a first-period 2-on-1 with Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov that resulted in no shots on goal.
"Ultimately, we weren't hungry enough to shoot pucks," Cooper said. "We're going back to old habits we've been trying to break for years."
The Sharks extended their lead to 3-0 after two periods thanks to a bad Lightning read on a 2-on-1 and a power-play goal. What bothered Cooper, though, was that Tampa Bay had just four shots on goal after Anton Stralman scored with 14 minutes left in the game, zero shots in the final three minutes after Bishop was pulled for an extra attacker.
"We can't do that," Cooper said. "That last 31/2 minutes can really sum up what really happened the first 57."
The Lightning lost Stralman, who left with six minutes left with an undisclosed injury (Cooper said it wasn't head related). And it lost the game despite holding a 26-20 advantage in shots on goal, 55-39 in attempts. It won't get easier as Tampa Bay opens a five-game road trip Monday.
"It wasn't terrible, but you don't get points," Stamkos said. "Those games mean nothing in this league if you don't get points. You don't get a checkmark because you play well.
"Not good enough."
First Period—1, San Jose, Marleau 4 (Martin, Burns), 7:18. 2, San Jose, Wingels 3 (Tierney, Karlsson), 10:04. Penalties—Sustr, TB, Penalty Shot (interference on breakaway (penalty shot)), 4:05.
Second Period—3, San Jose, Vlasic 3 (Hertl, Donskoi), 8:52 (pp). Penalties—Namestnikov, TB, (high sticking), 7:48; San Jose bench, served by Labanc (too many men on the ice), 10:53.
Third Period—4, Tampa Bay, Stralman 1 (Boyle, Paquette), 5:43. Penalties—Pavelski, SJ, (high sticking), 0:22. Shots on Goal—San Jose 8-8-4—20. Tampa Bay 9-9-8—26. Power-play opportunities—San Jose 1 of 1; Tampa Bay 0 of 2. Goalies—San Jose, Jones 8-6-0 (26 shots-25 saves). Tampa Bay, Bishop 5-5-0 (20-17).