Aaron Dell was brilliant in the San Jose Sharks’ 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at SAP Center on Thursday.
“I’ve given up a lot of goals in my life,” Dell said. “It’s pretty easy to let it go now and I really want to come back now and make an impression.”
The Sharks returned to SAP Center for a brief two-game homestand, trying for a season sweep of the Lightning in Thursday’s contest.
Although there was some physicality, the Sharks looked lifeless for most of the first period.
The Sharks were unable to move the puck through the neutral zone. Logan Couture returned to the lineup after battling an undisclosed illness, but appeared to be sluggish and struggled to create some chanes in the offensive zone.
Things got chippy when Joel Ward dropped the gloves with Alex Killorn with 3:54 left in the period. As a result, Ward took a holding penalty and Killon was assessed an embellishment penalty.
The Lightning outshot the Sharks 12-7, but the game remained scoreless in the first 20 minutes.
The Sharks broke a scoreless deadlock at 14:59 of the middle period. Ryan Carpenter collected a pass from Brent Burns and fired it from the top of the circle for his second of the season, giving the Sharks a 1-0 lead.
However, the Sharks’ lead was short-lived as the Lightning capitalized on the man advantage. Brenden Dillon was called for tripping Brian Boyle at 14:23. Less than a minute later, Jonathan Drouin circled back to center, drove at warp speed around the blue-line and scored a highlight-reel power-play goal for his 14th of the season, tying the score 1-1.
Both teams walked to the locker room with one goal apiece after 40 minutes. Shots were 20-13 in favor of the Lightning.
Couture looked lifeless in the early stages of the game, but gave fans something to smile about early in the third period, as he slipped a wrist shot past Andrei Vasilevskiy for his 15th of the season to put the Sharks ahead 2-1.
A defensive effort helped the Sharks maintain their lead late in the period. Dell made a notable save, sealing a post to prevent a Lightning goal.
The Sharks (28-16-2) beat the Lightning (21-21-5) by a close score of 2-1. Dell made 24 saves in his second start in nine days. Vasilevskiy finished with 22 saves in a losing effort.
Joe Pavelski complimented Dell, saying: “You see him, he’s aggressive and in the game, he tackles all the pucks and that’s what you want from a goalie. He makes the saves.”
Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said his team expected the first 10 minutes to be tough coming back from Los Angeles after an emotional win.
DeBoer added: “We have to find a way to win games. They’re not easy to play…Tonight, we found a way.”
Scratched: Tim Heed, Ryan Carpenter, Barclay Goodrow, Timo Meier
Injured: Michael Haley (upper body), Tomas Hertl (knee), Dylan DeMelo (broken wrist)
The Sharks return to action Saturday when they host the Colorado Avalanche (13-29-1) at 7:30 p.m. PST on CSCA and Alt2.