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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, January 18th (All times Eastern)

San Jose Sharks (30-12-6) at Tampa Bay Lightning (28-15-5), 2 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Lightning have struggled to string together wins lately, but help could soon be on the way in the form of injured star Steven Stamkos.

However, the club will once again be without Stamkos on Saturday when they host the San Jose Sharks at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

The Lightning, who are just one point behind Boston for first place in the Atlantic Division, have managed to play well despite being without their sniping centerman since he suffered a broken right tibia on Nov. 11 in Boston. However, Stamkos, a two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner, participated in his first full team skate on Tuesday and is nearing a return from the injury that required surgery.

There is still no official word on when Stamkos, who has 14 goals and nine assists in 17 games this season, will be able to return to game action but it expects to be before the NHL goes on hiatus for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Stamkos was selected to represent Team Canada at the Winter Games, but right now he is more focused on getting back to help his NHL club.

"I just want to get back out there and help these guys win," said Stamkos."I think we can really do something special this year and I look forward to contributing to that."

Stamkos' team began the month of January with two straight wins, but Tampa has alternated losses and wins since then, going 3-3-1 over the past seven games. The Bolts last played on Thursday when they dropped a 2-1 shootout decision against the visiting New York Islanders. Frans Nielsen scored the winner in the shootout to help the Isles gain the extra point at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Martin St. Louis scored in regulation for the Lightning and Ben Bishop made 29 saves in the losing effort.

"We had our chances to put them away and we didn't", said Bishop. "I thought we played a good game, just came up on the short end against a team that's been pretty hot."

St. Louis has the longest current point streak in the NHL at six games. He has recorded four goals and three assists during the stretch and is leading the Lightning in both goals (21) and helpers (24) this season.

The Lightning are capping a brief two-game homestand on Saturday and are 14-5-3 as the host this season.

The Sharks will try to wrap a three-game road trip with a perfect record today after notching wins at Washington and Florida to begin the swing. San Jose recorded a 2-1 shootout victory in D.C. on Tuesday and then posted a 3-0 win over the Panthers.

Alex Stalock made 24 saves to record his first career shutout in the win over Florida. Joe Pavelski had a goal and an assist for the Sharks, who have won three of their last four. Matt Nieto and Joe Thornton also lit the lamp to help San Jose improve its road record to 14-10-3.

"A win is a win on the road, but a shutout is pretty special too. It will be something I will remember," Stalock said.

It's uncertain if Sharks coach Todd McLellan will play the hot hand and return to Stalock again today or if he decides to go with No. 1 netminder Antti Niemi. Stalock has never faced the Lightning, while Niemi is 3-0-1 with a 2.22 goals against average versus Tampa Bay.

San Jose downed the Lightning by a 5-1 score on Nov. 21 in Northern California and has taken three of four and seven of the past nine meetings in this series. Tampa has claimed two straight encounters in its home arena, however, and the Lightning boast a 5-2-0 record with a tie in the last eight meetings against the Sharks at the Forum.

The Sharks will return to Silicon Valley following today's road tilt and are set to begin a four-game homestand Monday against Calgary.

01/18 10:35:57 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CHA 104
LAL 103
Final
GT 49
UNC 81
 
2nd
CLEM 28
NCSU 24
 
Final
DET 15
BAL 2
 
Final
MIA 7
MIAFLA 1
 
Final
PHI 5
NYY 5
 
Final
BOS 2
NEASTERN 1
 
Final
TOR 7
PIT 8
 
Final
CIN 10
CLE 0
 
Final
OAK 9
SFG 4
 
Final
BOS 1
BOSTONCOLL 0
 
Final
ARI 4
ASU 0
 
Final
CLE 110
BOS 79
Final
CHA 104
LAL 103
Final
NYK 86
SAC 124
Final
ATL 104
HOU 96
 
4th
MEM 80
UTA 89
 
4th
CHI 86
WAS 77
 
2nd
DEN 55
MIL 50
 
Final
UMO 70
AKR 63
 
Final
NAVY 56
ARMY 52
 
Final
BST 60
EMICH 67
 
Final
BUT 54
GEOR 60
 
Final
IND 63
IOWA 77
 
Final
FLGC 81
JVU 63
 
Final
USCU 90
KNST 54
 
Final
BGU 80
KSU 81
 
Final
NKENTUCKY 73
LIP 76
 
Final
HC 62
GHND 45
 
Final
RUTG 50
MD 60
 
Final
GT 49
UNC 81
 
Final
BUF 93
OHIO 66
 
Final
ALA 74
MISS 82
 
Final
DAY 75
RIU 59
 
Final
CMICH 85
TOL 77
 
Final
DET 77
YOUNG 67
 
Final
UNF 81
STET 67
 
Final
ABCHRIST 83
HOUB 71
 
Final
NDAK 78
NEOM 80
 
Final
NILL 65
WMICH 63
 
Final
ILLCH 60
WRST 57
 
2nd
MIZZ 37
AUB 35
 
Half
UGA 32
KENT 32
 
2nd
NW 29
MICH 41
 
2nd
CLEM 28
NCSU 24
 
2nd
UF 26
TEXAM 25
 
Half
KU 26
WVU 40
 
1st
CREI 27
VILL 26
 
Final
PHI 2
CAL 3
Final
NJD 3
NAS 1
Final
CLB 3
WAS 5
Final
TAM 3
BUF 0
 
3rd
FLA 2
TOR 3
 
3rd
MIN 2
OTT 2
 
2nd
DAL 0
NYI 1
 
2nd
ARI 0
ANA 1
 
10:00pm Tonight
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