TAMPA — Although Martin St. Louis needed only 22 minutes to tie a franchise record that had stood for almost 22 years, the Tampa Bay Lightning continued their home woes in a Saturday matinee loss that coach Jon Cooper termed “disastrous.’’
San Jose’s Joe Pavelski scored three times late in the second period to erase a two-goal deficit and lift the Sharks past the Lightning 5-4 as Tampa Bay suffered its fifth consecutive home setback, each by one goal.
Patrick Marleau added a goal and two assists for the Sharks, who fell behind 4-2 at the 2:07 mark of the second period when St. Louis posted his fourth goal of the game, tying the club mark set by Chris Kontos in 1992 during the inaugural regular-season game in franchise history.
“When you score the first one, it gives you a boost and I rode the wave,’’ said St. Louis, who fired six shots at Antti Niemi. “I don’t think you play this game to have franchise records -- you play this game to win. I appreciated scoring the four goals ... right until the game was over.’’
In falling to 28-16-5, the Lightning also saw their top defenseman, Victor Hedman, helped off the ice with 15:20 remaining after taking a puck off his foot. Despite being on crutches after the game, Hedman traveled with the team to Raleigh for Sunday’s matchup against the Hurricanes.
It was a frustrating day for Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, who entered the rink with a league-leading .938 save percentage before yielding five goals in 32 shots.
“It was one of those days,’’ said Bishop, who was screened on at least two San Jose goals, including Pavelski’s game-winner with one minute left in the second period. “The bounces were weird, for both teams, and it’s good for us we have another game in 24 hours. They might have gotten one more bounce than we did. We checked out for about a 10-minute stretch of the second period and it cost us the game.’’
St. Louis scored a pair of power-play goals from the right circle off deft feeds from Tyler Johnson and Teddy Purcell. In between, Tampa Bay’s 38-year-old captain was credited with goals that eluded Niemi with the help of San Jose defensemen during scrums in front that featured bouncing pucks.
“I thought we put ourselves in a good spot, up 4-2,’’ said St. Louis, who has eight goals and three assists during a 7-game points streak. “There was still a lot of game left, but I like our chances against anybody up two goals. But we didn’t keep pushing and the next thing you know, we come in down a goal. It’s definitely deflating.’’
Pavelski’s one-timer during a delayed penalty call against the Lightning sliced Tampa Bay’s advantage to 4-3 with 7:12 left in the second period. Only 21 seconds later, Pavelski scored on a power-play rebound to forge a tie in front of a sellout crowd of 19,204.
On the winning score, defenseman Matt Irwin shot from the left point and Pavelski, lurking in front, was credited with his 25th goal.
“I thought a couple of our guys could have stepped in front of that shot,’’ Cooper said. “They got gritty goals today and that was the difference in the game.’’
The Sharks are 25-1-2 when leading after two periods and they limited Tampa Bay to only six shots in the final 20 minutes, including a power play when the Lightning failed to muster a shot at Niemi.
“It’s not like we’re laying eggs at home, but we’re having lapses and when we do, the puck has been ending up in the back of our net,’’ said Lightning center Nate Thompson, who won 10-of-16 faceoffs. “San Jose is big, fast and strong and they’ve got a bunch of core guys who have played together for awhile. Give them credit, they shut it down on us in that third period.’’