Vegas Hockey Odds: San Jose Sharks at Tampa Bay Lightning
Thursday, February 16, 2012
The San Jose Sharks have split a pair to start a nine-game road trip that will go a long way in determining if they win the Pacific Division. The Sharks’ balanced offense will be a difficult matchup for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who stand last in the league in goals against.
San Jose handled Tampa Bay 7-2 at home just before Christmas and has defeated the Lightning in six of the last seven meetings. Tampa Bay is 1-3-1 in its last five overall.
San Jose Sharks (31-17-6): San Jose’s power play is clicking. The Sharks have converted 11 times in 27 attempts over the last seven games. Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau each have seven goals on the power play, which stands fourth in the league. Pavelski and Marleau have 44 points, tied for third on the team behind captain Joe Thornton (50) and Logan Couture (46). The Sharks have to be better defensively after allowing 18 goals in the last five games. G Antti Niemi got the night off Monday, so he should be back in the lineup. Niemi has won both career decisions versus the Lightning, allowing two goals on 42 shots.
Tampa Bay Lightning (24-26-6): Steven Stamkos will play his 300th NHL game, just nine days after his 22nd birthday. Stamkos has 156 goals and 294 points in his career and leads the league with 37 goals this season, but has been kept off the scoresheet the last two games. The other two in the Lightning’s big three, Martin St Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, were also shut out in losses to Pittsburgh and Ottawa. Tampa Bay does have 13 of the next 18 at home, but stands 10 points behind eighth-place Toronto. Forward Ryan Malone returned to the lineup Tuesday with three shots.
Pavelski leads the NHL in faceoff
percentage at 61.9. The Sharks are second in the league as a team (53.0).
2. The Lightning is 7 for 72 on the power play the last 25 games, going 11-10-4.
3. Marleau has moved into a tie for 99th on the all-time scoring list with 379 goals.
NHL PREDICTION: Sharks 4, Lightning 2
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