SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -The San Jose Sharks more than made up for the absence of leading scorer Joe Thornton.
With their All-Star center serving the first game of a two-game NHL suspension, the Sharks broke out of a long scoring drought with one of their best offensive efforts of the season and beat the Tampa Lightning 5-2 on Saturday night.
San Jose, coming off shutout losses at Minnesota and St. Louis, had gone 156 minutes, 59 seconds without scoring before Patrick Marleau beat goalie Mike Smith with a short-handed goal at 12:16 of the first period. Marleau scored again 3:10 later, and the Sharks (6-5-1) were on their way to a scoring outburst.
``It had been a while since we've gotten on the board,' Marleau said. ``We all kind of felt that everybody has to pick it up that much more with Joe out. We can't replace him, but it gave some other guys an opportunity to play a little bit more minutes, and they took advantage of that.'
Marleau was joined on San Jose's top line by Dany Heatley, who scored his team-leading sixth goal, and Logan Couture, who took Thornton's place on that line and scored his fifth goal.
John McCarthy also scored for the Sharks, who recorded their third 5-2 victory in five games. The other two games were the shutout losses at Minnesota on Tuesday and at St. Louis on Thursday.
``Five seems to be the number,' Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. ``It's either five, or a goose egg. We saw good leadership from our top line. They played very well, and there were some players that rose to the occasion with Jumbo's suspension.'
One of them was Antero Niittymaki, who made 33 saves to improve to 5-1-1. Niittymaki stopped several point-blank shots, including a breakaway by Steven Stamkos in the closing seconds of the first period to preserve a 2-1 lead.
Stamkos scored his NHL-leading 11th goal late in the final period, and Martin St. Louis also scored for Tampa Bay (7-4-2), which lost for the second time in three nights to end its four-game Western road trip.
The Lightning were whistled for seven penalties and served 19 penalty minutes, 13 in the second period.
``It was the end of a nine-day road trip and it took a lot out of us,' Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said. ``What hurt us today was the second period that killed us with a million penalties. When you play in the penalty box for an entire period, you have to send your top guys out there, and they get drained and lose it later.
``We obviously couldn't get any momentum. They got it and they were smart. They played hard and they got a lot of shots on net.'
After Marleau's two goals gave San Jose a 2-1 edge entering the second period, the Sharks continued their assault on Smith with a 20-6 shots advantage during the period. Heatley and McCarthy both scored during the run, and Couture scored off an assist from Heatley just 27 seconds into the final period to give San Jose a four-goal lead.
``We have confidence in our players that the puck will go in eventually,' McLellan said, ``and when it does, it may come in bunches.'
NOTES: Tampa Bay hasn't won in San Jose since 2003, going 1-6 with one tie in its last eight visits. The Sharks recalled forward Benn Ferriero from Worcester (AHL) and put him in the starting lineup. ... Marleau played in his 965th game with the Sharks, the sixth-most among active NHL players who have spent their entire career with one organization.
The Associated Press News Service
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