Antti Niemi

The Sharks lose more than a hockey game in Tampa Bay

By Guest Contributor Kyle McLorg

It was an up and down night in Tampa for the San Jose Sharks.

Prior to the drop of the puck, the Sharks acquired Dominic Moore and a 7th round pick from the Lightning in exchange for a second round pick, adding some depth to their bottom lines.

But there was still a game to be played. The Sharks jumped out to an early lead after a pretty goal from Logan Couture, but the good vibes wouldn’t last. Sharks Defenseman Douglas Murray deflected a pass from Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lecavalier, which skipped off of Murray’s stick and struck him in the throat. After dropping to the ice for a moment, Murray was taken to the bench, then the locker room and eventually to the hospital for “precautionary observation.” Murray’s condition for the rest of the Sharks’ road trip is yet to be determined.

There was still game to be played. The Lightning jumped to a 2-1 lead by the end of the first period with goals from Steven Stamkos and Teddy Purcell, but the Sharks weren’t done yet.

Just 1:44 into the second period the Sharks opened up the scoring with a goal from from Michal Handzus, only to be answered by the Lightning’s Steve Downey several minutes later on a soft effort from Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi. The Sharks made reparations quickly, getting goals from Marc Edouard-Vlasic and Colin White. White’s goal was his first in 148 games, the longest scoreless streak on the Sharks’ roster by a long shot.

The third period would carry the same amount of fire power, with the Lightning taking the lead on back-to-back goals from Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. But the Sharks fought back to tie it and take a 5-5 game to overtime on a goal from recent AHL call up Tommy Wingels with a little over 5 minutes left in the third.

The Lightning ultimately ended it with a late overtime goal from St. Louis, sending the Sharks packing with just a single point, thanks primarily to some shoddy goaltending from Niemi. It stands to be mentioned that the Sharks were hurt defensively by the loss of Murray, but they certainly weren’t bailed out by Niemi, who struggled to find his rhythm all night. Who will start between the pipes in Carolina tonight is yet to be determined, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Todd McClellan make the change for Thomas Griess, who is 4-0-1 in his last five starts.

You can find more of Kyle McLorg’s writing at Ruthless Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Ruthless_Sports.

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