In the Crease: Sharks wrap up road trip in Tampa

In the Crease: Sharks wrap up road trip in Tampa
January 17, 2014, 5:15 pm
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Without Steven Stamkos since mid-November, the Lightning have alternated wins and losses in their last eight games (4-3-1). (USATSI)

Programming note 
Sharks-Lightning coverage gets underway at 10:30 a.m. Saturday with Sharks Pregame Live, only on Comcast SportsNet California

Where they stand
Sharks: 30-12-6, 66 points, 2nd Pacific Division, 4th Western Conference
Lightning: 28-15-5, 61 points, 2nd Atlantic Division, 3rd Eastern Conference

[RELATED: Couture skates for first time since surgery]

Vitals (through games of Dec. 16)

Sharks
Goals per game: 3.02 (5th)
Goals-against per game: 2.33 (T – 5th)
Power play: 18.6 percent (17th)
Penalty kill: 83.9 percent (10th)

Lightning
Goals per game: 2.75 (12th)
Goals-against per game: 2.33 (T – 5th)
Power play: 17.2 percent (21st)
Penalty kill: 80.2 percent (19th)

Probable lines

Sharks
Joe Pavelski – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Matt Nieto – Patrick Marleau – Tommy Wingels
Bracken Kearns – Andrew Desjardins – Tyler Kennedy
James Sheppard – John McCarthy – Eriah Hayes

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Jason Demers
Brad Stuart – Justin Braun
Matt Irwin – Dan Boyle

Antti NIemi
Alex Stalock

Lightning
Ondrej Palat – Tyler Johnson – Martin St. Louis
Alex Killorn – Valtteri Filppula – Teddy Purcell
Nikita Kucherov – Tom Pyatt – J.T. Brown
Ryan Malone – Richard Panik – Mark Barberio

Victor Hedman – Eric Brewer
Matt Carle – Radko Gudas
Jean-Philippe Cote – Sami Salo

Ben Bishop
Anders Lindback

The latest

Sharks: Alex Stalock made 24 saves in recording his first NHL shutout on Thursday in Florida, a 3-0 Sharks win. Joe Thornton, Matt Nieto and Joe Pavelski scored the goals for San Jose, which won back-to-back games for the first time in 2014. The Sharks are attempting to go a perfect 3-0 on their road trip after wins against the Capitals and Panthers, and will return home for eight of their final 10 games before the Olympic break.

Lightning: Tampa Bay’s home winless streak was extended to four with a 2-1 shootout loss to the Islanders on Thursday. Martin St. Louis scored the only goal for the Lightning, while Ben Bishop stopped 29 of 30 New York shots. The Lightning, without superstar Steven Stamkos since mid-November, have alternated wins and losses in their last eight games (4-3-1).

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Brent Burns. The forward had two assists against the Panthers, including a perfect pass up the wall to linemate Joe Thornton, leading to a breakaway goal. Burns had a total of 10 attempts at the net, most of them coming in the first period, but has just one goal in his last seven games. He’ll be playing in his 600th career NHL game.

Lightning: Martin St. Louis. The ageless Lightning forward brings a six-game scoring streak into Saturday’s game, with four goals and three assists over that span. In 18 career games against the Sharks, the 38-year-old has seven goals and four assists for 11 points. He leads the Lightning in scoring with 45 points.

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee surgery), Marty Havlat (lower body), Raffi Torres (right knee surgery), Adam Burish (back surgery), Scott Hannan (upper body) and Logan Couture (right hand) are out.

Lightning: Steven Stamkos (right tibia surgery), Keith Aulie (hand surgery), Brian Lee (knee) and Mattias Ohlund (knee) are out.

Season/All-Time series

The Sharks cruised to a 5-1 win over Tampa Bay at SAP Center on Nov. 21, behind two goals from Tommy Wingels and three points apiece from Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture.

All-time, the Sharks are 14-13-2-2 against the Lightning. This is the second and final meeting of the season.

Quoteable

“All you can really ask for is to compete hard every night, and I think the last few games we’ve done that. Hopefully we’ll carry it out on Saturday.” – Joe Thornton

Burning question

Are the Lightning a legitimate Stanley Cup contender once they get Steven Stamkos back in the lineup?

Leave your answer in the comments section below.