TAMPA — That was not exactly the response the Lightning were looking for Tuesday night. Sure, they came away with a point, but having the struggling Sharks enter Amalie Arena and beat them 4-3 in overtime for their second loss in two days was not how the Bolts expected to come out of the All-Star break.
“We’re a proud team, so this stings,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. “Losing two in a row doesn’t sit well with us, so we’ve got to get back to work.”
Timo Meier beat Lightning backup goalie Brian Elliott with 2 minutes, 41 seconds left in overtime for his second goal of the game. The loss ended Tampa Bay’s home winning streak at 12 games.
After returning from their eight-day All-Star break with an embarrassing 7-1 loss to the Panthers Monday in Sunrise, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he wanted to see a response from his team on Tuesday.
“It was an unreal response. I thought we came out and dictated play and did everything we wanted to do …. for 20 minutes,” Cooper said. “Then special teams took over and we lost a special teams game.”
The Lightning, which has the third most effective power-play unit in the NHL, went 1-for-6 with the man advantage. Brayden Point’s first goal of the night was their only goal on the power play. The Lightning hit the pipes, missed open shots, and Hedman had one chance snap with his stick breaking on the ice.
“They got the looks, they didn’t go in,” Cooper said. “But that may have dictated a little bit of our mental state after that. When they don’t go in and when you’re kind of held away, all of a sudden you let the other team hang around, and this is the National Hockey League ... even though they may be outside of a playoff spot and they’re all fighting for jobs, they’re trying to win. And so I think, for us, our mental side of things got the best of us (Tuesday).”
The Lightning (32-16-2) initially came out with a strong answer to Monday’s loss. Ross Colton scored just 2:10 into the game. The Sharks (16-25-11), who had scored just 10 power-play goals on the road this season entering the game, answered with their first of two on three man-advantage opportunities.
After Erik Karlsson tied the game just seconds into the Sharks’ first power play, at 6:28 of the first period, Point responded with a power-play goal at 9:21 and an even-handed goal at 16:44.
It was Point’s seventh multi-goal game of the season and secured his third 30-goal season. With assists on both of Point’s goals, Nikita Kucherov tied his own team record, set in 2018-19, with a point in 16 consecutive home games.
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The Lightning could never really grab the reins of this one.
Meier’s first goal of the night, a power-play goal off the faceoff with 3:37 left in the second, cut the Lightning’s lead to 3-2. The Bolts believed they answered 38 seconds later when Steven Stamkos knocked a puck past Kaapo Kahkonen. But the Sharks challenged the goal, and replays showed that Brayden Point had been offside when he started the play.
The Lightning had just a one-goal lead to begin the third period. They also were without Point for the first 4-1/2 minutes after he fought Michael Eyssimont with 20 seconds to play in the second, and Nick Paul, who left the ice in the second period and did not return.
Jonah Gadjovich tied the game 3:08 into the third on a slap shot that broke Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s stick and ricocheted into the net behind Elliott, who was making his first start since Jan. 18 in Vancouver.
The Bolts have lost back-to-back games just six times this season and have not lost three in a row. They went into the break having won three straight against playoff-caliber teams (Wild, Bruins, Kings) and thought they were turning a corner.
Now, they need to find their way back there.
“We gotta find it,” forward Corey Perry said. “. … We had that homestand before the break, and we talked about what makes us tick, what makes us play well. We showed those three games what we can do. We played some pretty good teams, and we’ve just got to get back to the predictable and playing together and good things happen.
“I mean, Monday night, you can flush that one,” Perry continued. “(Tuesday) ... you’ve got to find a way to put a team away.”
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