Sharks Begin Five Game Homestand With A Tough Test

The Sharks are without Joe Thornton, their captain and one of their top goal producers when the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning come to town, the first of a five-game homestand for San Jose. They'll need a lot of things to go right when their points leader is out, which would signify a big change in fortune for the team who has failed to produce a goal in its last two outings. They fell to a 1-0 shutout in Minnesota and then couldn't produce anything in a 2-0 defeat against the Blues in St. Louis.

Thornton is suspended for two games and is eligible to return when San Jose hosts the New York Islanders on Thursday. Thornton was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for the illegal check on David Perron.

The Sharks are 2-2-1 at home this season, while the Lightning are 4-2-1 on the road and 1-1-1 on this four-game road trip, which ends tonight. Tampa Bay lost their last two games, being shutout 1-0 in Los Angeles in their most recent outing.

The Lightning beat the Sharks 5-2 in Tampa last year, ending a four-game losing streak in the series. Steven Stamkos scored a pair of goals in that win for the Bolts. Look for Antero Niittymaki to draw the start.

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