Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning playoff prospects murkier after loss to Sharks (w/video)

TAMPA — With four losses in five games and defensive breakdowns at the heart of Tuesday's 4-2 loss to San Jose, Lightning coach Jon Cooper has a new urgency facing his team: The prospect of missing the playoffs entirely.

"Going back to the old adage that it's not how many you score, it's how many you keep out, we're not there at all right now," Cooper said after the Lightning defense gave up two goals in the third period after rallying to tie it in the second at Amalie Arena.

Tampa Bay (30-22-4) finds itself on the outside looking in, tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with Pittsburgh, which has a game in hand.

"These points are important, and we let them slip through," Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop said. "Luckily other teams are losing as well, so we're not falling too far behind. We'll probably wake up (today) not being in the playoffs. We've got 26 games left and they're all going to be important … It's gut-check time."

So while the Lightning got goals from two players mired in long scoring droughts — Ryan Callahan and Cedric Paquette scored their first goals of the calendar year, ending streaks of 18 and 21 games, respectively, without a score — that was overshadowed by the four goals Tampa Bay gave up.

"You have to look at the big picture, and where we are in the standings, how important those points are," Callahan said. "We have to tighten up defensively. It's another game (where) we gave up four goals, where we've had our success where we're giving up one maybe two. We've got to be better defensively."

Paquette's goal tied the score after the Sharks had scored twice in a span of five minutes for a 2-1 lead. Tied to open the third period, Tampa Bay's defense had a breakdown right away, and Cooper called the go-ahead goal, by San Jose left wing Matt Nieto just 1:07 into the third, "inexcusable."

"We just don't give those up. It was way too easy," Cooper said. "We have guys who have been with us for a while out there on the ice. It's our job as coaches to straighten this out. Why they're (deviating) from what's worked for us is what we need to figure out."

San Jose put the game away with a goal with 1:43 left, as center Melker Karlsson beat Bishop for a two-goal lead as the Lightning tried to tie the score. Tampa Bay's efforts to force overtime weren't helped by two penalties in the final 11 minutes, creating power plays for San Jose.

Tampa Bay had lost just twice in its first 54 games when leading after the first and was 22-4 when scoring first, but lost despite both advantages. The Lightning killed off all three Sharks power plays, making it four straight games without allowing a power-play goal, but consistently gave up odd-man rushes for even-strength goals.

Callahan got the early lead, taking the puck directly in front of Sharks goalie Martin Jones, making a move to his right and firing the puck left past Jones for the goal and a 1-0 lead with 2:09 left in the period. After scoring four goals in the first 13 games of the season, he had just one in 41 games before Tuesday's score.

The Lightning closes a four-game, seven-day home stand on Thursday night against Winnipeg, opening a stretch of three games in four days. After hosting the Jets, six of Tampa Bay's next seven games are on the road.

"If we keep losing, you're not climbing in the standings, you're going the wrong way, and that's what we're doing right now," Cooper said. "I have a lot of faith in this group. If you go through 82 games, you're going to go through bumps in the road. … We need an inspired effort against Winnipeg."

Contact Greg Auman at and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

Sharks 0 2 2 4
Lightning 1 1 0 2



First Period1, Tampa Bay, Callahan 6 (Killorn, Sustr), 17:51. PenaltiesNone.

Second Period2, San Jose, Ward 16 (Vlasic, Nieto), 1:43. 3, San Jose, Pavelski 26 (Thornton, Hertl), 6:34. 4, Tampa Bay, Paquette 3 (J.Brown), 8:46. PenaltiesCoburn, TB (interference), 15:39.

Third Period5, San Jose, Nieto 8 (Marleau, Ward), 1:17. 6, San Jose, Karlsson 7 (Thornton), 18:17. PenaltiesDonskoi, SJ (tripping), 2:00; Marchessault, TB (boarding), 9:13; Filppula, TB (tripping), 14:10; Hedman, TB, misconduct, 18:17; Ward, SJ (holding), 19:46. Shots on GoalSan Jose 8-10-13—31. Tampa Bay 9-12-9—30. Power-play opportunitiesSan Jose 0 of 3; Tampa Bay 0 of 2. GoaliesSan Jose, Jones 27-15-3 (30 shots-28 saves). Tampa Bay, Bishop 22-17-3 (31-27). A19,092 (19,092). T2:22. Referees—Gord Dwyer, Jon McIsaac. LinesmenDavid Brisebois, Brian Mach.

Lightning playoff prospects murkier after loss to Sharks (w/video) 02/16/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 17, 2016 7:26am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs


    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  2. Rays journal: Jake Odorizzi goes on 10-day DL with back strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jake Odorizzi is hoping his struggles this season can be tied directly to the lower-back strain he has tried to pitch through since spring training. Toward that end, the Rays placed Odorizzi on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday retroactive to Tuesday.

    Rays center fielder Mallex Smith smiles after hitting a single advancing runners in the third inning. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with key series at Yankees up first (w/ video)

    The Heater


    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, July 22, 2017.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It is going to get interesting tonight when the Rays begin a four-game series against the Yankees in New York. The Rays feel they are good enough to win the East Division. These next four games and the four that follow in Houston will be a good measuring stick.