Sharks takeaways: What we learned in tough 3-0 loss to Lightning



SAN JOSE -- The Sharks and Tampa Bay Lighting have been headed in opposite directions, and they'll remain so after the Bolts prevailed 3-0 at SAP Center on Saturday night. San Jose has now lost five times in the team's last six games, while the victory was the Lightning's 15th in their last 18 contests.

In many ways, it was the same story that has followed the Sharks all season long. Goaltender Aaron Dell came up with some big saves to keep things from getting out of hand, their penalty-kill unit kept them in the game, their power play was ineffective and they simply lacked the depth of talent to contend with one of the best teams in the NHL.

With the win, Tampa Bay swept the season series with San Jose and managed to outscore the Sharks 10-1 over their two matchups. Yes, both teams play in the NHL, but they're not in the same league right now.
Here are three takeaways from San Jose's third shutout loss of the season, all suffered since Dec. 31.

Dell is deserving

During a pregame panel discussion with Sharks season ticket holders Saturday night, San Jose general manager Doug Wilson addressed several areas of needed improvement, and noted that, "Obviously, we've got to address our goaltending." That comment seemed to be more about Martin Jones than Dell, and Dell further backed that up with his performance against the Lightning.

Tampa Bay was absolutely flying coming out of the gate and had the Sharks on their heels throughout the entire first period. By the time the first intermission had sounded, Dell had stopped all 13 of the Lightning's shots on goal, while his counterpart -- Tampa Bay's Curtis McElhinney -- had stopped each of the two shots he faced in the opening period. It wasn't only shots on net, either, as the Lightning had a 29-7 advantage in shot attempts, as well. Several of Dell's saves were at point-blank range, and the Sharks likely would have been facing a much larger deficit if not for his standout performance.

Prior to puck drop, Dell was announced as the Sharks' Player of the Month for January, over which he went 5-3-0 over eight appearances with a .925 save percentage and 2.38 goals-against average. After one game, he's in the lead for February's award, too.

Not again

In January alone, the Sharks lost both Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl to serious injuries suffered in awkward collisions going into the end boards. It took one period into February for it to happen again.

With less than seven minutes remaining in the opening frame, Joel Kellman was chasing down a puck in the corner of the offensive zone when Tampa Bay defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk gave him a dangerous push in the back, forcefully sending him into the boards. Kellman was in immediate pain, and after slowly making his way to San Jose's bench, he was quickly taken to the Sharks' locker room. Kellman briefly reappeared at the start of the second period, but went back to the locker room after taking one shift and did not return.

Hertl's season is over and Couture will remain out for several more weeks, which leaves San Jose without its top two centermen for the foreseeable future. Kellman was going to be tasked with helping to fill that void, and served as the team's third-line center against the Lightning. If he has a lengthy absence, it will further test the depth at a position the Sharks are already depleted at.

Missed opportunity

The Sharks' three-game homestand coming out of the All-Star break started so well, but they concluded it having only achieved two out of the six possible points. That's not going to cut it for a team clinging to the faintest of playoff hopes, particularly because it's not going to get any easier. San Jose plays only two games next week, but they're both on the road against divisional opponents who happen to be two of the hotter teams in the league. The Sharks first head to Calgary to face the Flames -- who have won seven of 11 -- on Tuesday before making the trek to Edmonton to face the Oilers -- winners of eight of their last 11 -- on Thursday.

Of the 29 games remaining on the Sharks' regular-season schedule, only 13 more will come at SAP Arena. While they haven't necessarily been a great home team this year, they've been far better there than on the road. No matter where San Jose is playing its games right now, though, it's probably going to be a struggle.

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