Friday, October 23, 2009

Lightning returns home, tops San Jose

A return home was just the thing for the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday, as the Bolts broke a two-game skid with a 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks, in front of 13,343 fans at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida.

19-year-old rookie James Wright scored his first NHL goal on a tip-in just 30 seconds into the contest, then Ryan Malone converted another tip-in at 15:01, giving Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead after one.

Ryan Vesce put the Sharks on the board with a backhander at 12:34 of the second, but a Steven Stamkos goal at 16:39 restored the two-goal lead at 3-1 through 40 minutes.

Andrej Meszaros made it 4-1 Lightning with a goal 2:54 into the third. San Jose struck back at 13:41 on a Dan Boyle power play goal for the Sharks, but Stamkos scored his second goal of the night at 19:41 into an empty net, as Tampa Bay finished out an impressive 5-2 streak-busting win.

Mike Smith was solid in goal for the Lightning, stopping 32-of-34 shots for his first win in nine months. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 20-of-24 shots for San Jose. Special teams were a wash, with Tampa Bay going 0-for-1 on the power play while scoring a shorth handed goal. The Sharks were 1-for-4 with the man advantage.

With the win, the Lightning rebound from their two road losses last weekend, to improve to 3-3-2 for 8 points, third in the Southeast Division behind Atlanta(9 points) and Washington(12 points). San Jose is now 5-4-1 for 11 points in the Pacific Division, trailing Dallas, Los Angeles and Phoenix, all with 12 points.

Tampa Bay plays game two of their four-game home stand Saturday night, playing host to the Buffalo Sabres. Faceoff is set for 7:30pm EDT. Radio coverage is on 620 WDAE, with the live telecast on WTOG(CW 44).

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