SAN JOSE, Calif. — Marty St. Louis returned to the lineup, and he even scored a goal. But that was just about the only good news for the Lightning late Wednesday night.
The Sharks shredded the Lightning defense with five first-period goals and coasted to a 7-2 victory at HP Pavilion.
"We got outbattled and outplayed, period," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said.
Starting goaltender Mathieu Garon was chased just 6:21 into the opening period by three Sharks goals. Dwayne Roloson fared little better when he entered the game, yielding two more quick goals.
The five goals were the most given up by the Lightning in a single period this season. By the time Dominic Moore deflected an Eric Brewer shot past Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi with 4:22 left, the damage already had been done for the night.
"It's an awful way to start the game," Brewer said. "We weren't prepared to start the same way they were. … They were really good in the first period and we were really junk."
The loss ended a two-game winning streak for the Lightning, which was outshot 43-24.
The game began on a hopeful note with the unexpected return of St. Louis. The star wing had been out of the lineup since suffering facial fractures after being struck by an errant puck Dec. 8.
Earlier in the day, Boucher had said he was surprised St. Louis, who had missed the previous five games, even was on the team flight for this two-game road trip. He added that "it would take a small miracle" for St. Louis to play and that the timetable still was for him to not return until after Christmas.
Miracles happen, it seems. And St. Louis made his presence felt by slamming home his 10th goal of the season midway through the third period. But it wasn't nearly enough to overcome Tampa Bay's defensive lapses.
The swarming Sharks got early, even-strength goals from Benn Ferriero and Andrew Desjardins sandwiched around a power-play goal by Joe Pavelski. Garon stopped only five of the eight shots he faced, although he didn't receive much help from defenders in front of him, either.
Boucher then made the switch to Roloson, who received an equally rude welcome when Logan Couture greeted him with two more goals, the second at 14:47 was a power-play tally with Moore in the penalty box for boarding.
Moore got a little payback less than a minute later with his third goal of the season to make it 5-1.
But by the time the horn sounded, 11 Sharks were on the scoresheet and San Jose had broken a 15-year-old record for the quickest five goals scored in team history.
"We didn't come out ready to battle," St. Louis said. "You can't have that when you're playing against a team like this. You can't allow them to have space and time to make plays. That's a team that thrives on scoring goals, and when they do, they start feeling good about themselves."
After a scoreless second period, San Jose's Brent Burns struck with a long one-timer from a face-off that beat Roloson to make it 6-1 at 1:15 of the third period.
St. Louis' goal from the top of the slot at 7:45 made it 6-2.
San Jose's Patrick Marleau got the credit for the final goal. But Lightning defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron actually knocked the puck out of the air, off Roloson's pads and into the net. Afterward, he slammed his stick on the crossbar in frustration.
It was that kind of night.
In the last four trips to San Jose, Tampa Bay has been outscored 22-6.
"It's always a shellacking when Tampa Bay comes out here," Boucher said, "and that has to stop."
And as if the final result Wednesday weren't bad enough, wing Ryan Shannon left the game in the second with a lower body injury and did not return.