Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau scored power-play goals to help the Sharks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 on Sunday.
The Sharks, with the NHL’s top power-play unit, converted two of three chances. Ryane Clowe scored his first career NHL goal, Mike Grier added an empty-net goal and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 18 shots for San Jose.
“We have the best power play in the league, so maybe the memo’s gone out and the referees are not going to give us power plays to see if we can figure out another way to win,” Sharks coach Ron Wilson said.
Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis scored for the Lightning. Tampa Bay finished 2-for-7 on the power play.
Thornton scored at 4:02 of the first on the Sharks’ only power play during the first two periods. The center hadn’t had a goal in 12 previous games since April 15.
“We were effective when we played in their end,” said Thornton.
Clowe, who returned after missing six games because of a foot injury, made it 2-0 at 2:51 of the second. Grier set up the goal, beating Tampa Bay defenceman Doug Janik to the puck behind the net and passing it to Clowe.
“I really stopped thinking about it,” said Clowe, whose first goal came in his 22nd career game. “When you just go out and play, it will happen. That’s what I tried to do this year. It’s really special. It feels great.”
Lightning coach John Tortorella said Clowe’s goal was the key.
“The one that bothers me, Clowe, he scores the second goal,” Tortorella said. “We’re trying to keep Thornton and Marleau off the board, their lines, and get beat on really just a dump in. It wasn’t a lack of effort, we didn’t get the job done.”
Grier completed the scoring with his empty-net goal with 1:21 left.
The Lightning, who entered the game tied for 23rd in the power-play rankings, had five consecutive man-advantage chances, but converted just one when Lecavalier cut the deficit to 2-1 with 3:52 left in the second.
Lecavalier has a goal in four straight games. Vinny Prospal picked up his 300th career assist on the goal.
After Marleau scored at 10:51 of the third, St. Louis pulled Tampa Bay to 3-2 with 6:58 to play. St. Louis has six goals in his last four games.
“We just couldn’t get that one more big play,” Tortorella said.
Notes: Thornton has 13 assists this season. … Sharks D Matt Carle stopped St. Louis’ point-blank scoring attempt in the second while Nabokov was down on the ice during a goal-mouth scramble. … The Lightning was been outscored 15-5 in the first period. … San Jose LW Ville Nieminen and D Josh Gorges were scratched after playing in the Sharks’ first 11 games this season.