TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Lightning began Thursday evening’s 6-0 win over the San Jose Sharks with a quick start as center Brayden Point and forward Mikey Eyssimont scored in the first six minutes to build a solid advantage over the NHL’s lone winless team.
“One of those nights where we got the lead early,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “I always like that. Just put the team on their heels when you can and we did that.”
Eyssimont followed Point’s second goal of the season as he was falling forward and redirected the puck on the five-hole of initial Sharks goalie Mackenzie Blackwood.
“Our defense has taken a turn here and I think we are realizing that some of those poorer games on our part were mostly work ethic and turnovers,” said Eyssimont. “Continuing to block shots and keep some good players to the outside and not letting them get those high-scoring chances is going to be good for us.”
Goalie Jonas Johansson tended back-to-back shutouts after his 3-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday evening. San Jose only found 23 shots in the three periods and struggled to get close to Johansson as the defense kept the Sharks filtered to the wings.
“For us, we have been at home for a week or so, here, and we are trying to build our game,” Cooper said. “I like the way we played in our end again and when we do, we are not giving up a whole lot and if we do, the goalie is there for us.
Steven Stamkos metaphorically slammed the door on the reeling Sharks at 19:08 in the first period when he scored on a power play goal which gave the Lightning the man advantage off of a high-stick on San Jose center Jacob Peterson.
Nikita Kucherov took the puck in the right circle and set up Stamkos at the top near the slot between the circles. Stamkos connected on his first score in six games as he posted two in the second game of the season, a 6-4 loss in Detroit.
“You want to see work ethic,” noted Cooper. “You can lose that in a game when you have a lead. We kept working. It was good on the guys.”
Brandon Hagel and Nick Paul each added their fifth goal of the season in the second period. Stamkos assisted Paul at 7:29 and Victor Hedman assisted both goals which allowed the Lightning to get contributions from all four lines.
Paul has scored in three of the last four games.
Luke Glendening provided the lone goal of the third as he connected on the second goal of the evening for the Lightning’s fourth line at 5:44.
“I thought they were hounding pucks,” analyzed Cooper of his fourth line. “They came up with them, they were making the right plays, they were relieving the pressure and when they had an opportunity, they got to the net and cashed in.”
These two teams were first and second in the NHL in shots against per game. San Jose has struggled early in this season in allowing a 38.7-24.5 shot difference, based on average. They gave up the most shots per game going into last night.
The Lightning were second in the shots per game category as the opponents had found 36.7 while Tampa Bay was at 28.3 per evening. Tampa Bay has given up just 55 shots combined in its last two games after Toronto posted 52 in the overtime loss last Saturday.
“Because a team comes in winless, it doesn’t change how you have to approach,” said Cooper. “If you play a team that hasn’t won a game, you should have that same approach and I thought we did tonight.”