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Sharks send Lightning to third consecutive loss

The SportsXchange

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- After winning their first seven games against Western Conference opponents, the Tampa Bay Lightning have run into a brick wall.

The San Jose Sharks snapped a three-game winless streak at home with a 5-1 victory Thursday, handing the Lightning their first three-game losing streak of the season.

"Six points have been on the table, and we have yet to find one," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "To me, this is a rough trip. Things had been going our way for a long time this year to start the season, and now not so much."

Right winger Tommy Wingels benefited from the hard work of his San Jose linemates to enjoy the first two-goal game of his career. Left winger Patrick Marleau, playing alongside Wingels and center Logan Couture on a line that gave Tampa Bay fits, contributed one goal and two assists, while Couture collected a career-high three assists.

"The good thing about them is they're responsible defensively and they can still find a way to get on the scoreboard," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of the trio. "So that's a nice balance."

Right winger Brent Burns scored his fifth goal of the season in his return to San Jose's lineup for the first time in 14 games. Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart scored his second goal of the season.

"Having him in the lineup is important for us," Stuart said of Burns. "He's a huge part of the team and gives everyone a boost. It's good to see him back. First games back are always tough, but I think he did a good job."

San Jose (14-3-5) got plenty of offense to support goaltender Antti Niemi, who stopped 36 of 37 shots for his 11th win.

"They are one of the elite teams in the league," Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said of the Sharks. "When you make a mistake, they are going to make you pay for it. Tonight we just couldn't execute when we had to."

The Sharks scored the only goal of the second period when Wingels connected for his career-high seventh at 11:47 to make it 3-0. Marleau fed the suburban Chicago native with a feed from behind the goal.

"Tommy, you can tell he's playing with so much confidence right now," said Sharks center Joe Thornton, the team captain.

Marleau narrowly missed with one minute remaining in the period when his long slapper rang off the goalpost. Marleau did not miss at 4:42 of the third, however, making it 5-0 when he slipped a backhand shot past Tampa Bay goalie Anders Lindback after fanning on a forehand in front.

Marleau's 11th goal of the season came just 19 seconds after Burns was credited with a goal at 4:23, a slap shot from defenseman Scott Hannan that ricocheted off of both Thornton and Burns in front.

Lindback finished with 31 saves.

"I think Lindback played unbelievable for us tonight, and he stopped a lot of pucks," Lightning center Tyler Johnson said. "We just can't give up those chances against good teams like this."

The Lightning finally broke through at 7:39 of the final period when Johnson scored his fifth goal of the season, tapping a centering feed from left winger Ondrej Palat past Niemi.

The Sharks took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, a period that featured Niemi making a number of key saves until his team could get its legs following three idle days.

Wingels scored his first of the game at 3:39 to cap a strong San Jose cycle that featured Marleau winning a battle in the corner against Hedman and right winger Martin St. Louis. Couture found Wingels, who snapped a shot from the edge of the left circle past Lindback.

The Sharks were on the heels for most of the next 10 minutes, especially during a Lightning power play after Wingels tripped center Valtteri Filppula. Tampa Bay put three shots on Niemi while keeping possession entirely in the San Jose end for all but the final three seconds of the two-minute minor.

"At some point you're just battling out there and trying to conserve what little energy you have," said Stuart, one of four San Jose skaters stuck on the ice for the entire kill. "They had a couple chances, but Nemo was there to shut the door and we were able to get that kill."

McLellan added, "Turning point, I don't know, but an important part of the game for sure."

Shortly after Lindback robbed Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle with a left-pad save, Stuart's drive from the left point found its way in at 18:03 of the first after right winger Tyler Kennedy was foiled on a wraparound attempt.

"Anytime you are down 2-0 to start a game is always pretty tough to get back into it," Johnson said. "The pucks are just going in. We have to be better."

NOTES: RW Brent Burns returned after missing 13 games due to a facial injury sustained Oct. 12. The Sharks were 6-3-4 without Burns after starting the season unbeaten in regulation at 7-0-1 with the converted defenseman scoring four goals and eight points. ... Tampa Bay's current injuries include C Steven Stamkos (right tibia surgery), D Brian Lee (knee surgery), D Mattias Ohlund (left knee), C Tom Pyatt (broken collarbone) and D Keith Aulie (upper body). San Jose continues to play without RW Raffi Torres (right ACL surgery) and RW Adam Burish (back surgery). ... LW Patrick Marleau was sore, but he played despite being involved in a two-car accident Tuesday. ... The Sharks opened a season-long five-game homestand. The Lightning played the third of a four-game road trip with only Friday's matchup against the Ducks in Anaheim remaining. ... C John McCarthy, D Matt Irwin and RW Matt Irwin were healthy scratches for San Jose. D Andrej Sustr and LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie did not dress for Tampa Bay.

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