For fans of the San Jose Sharks and Tampa Bay Lightning, the story of this game started before warmups had even finished. With each side preparing for their match, the announcement that forward Dominic Moore had been traded from Tampa to the Sharks for a second round pick came as a surprise to fans and media alike.
With Tampa also missing Pavel Kubina, who GM Steve Yzerman stated will be kept out to protect his trade value, head coach Guy Boucher was forced to shuffle his lines to make up for the missing veterans, while Todd McLellan made the decision to keep his lineup unchanged after the team's decisive victory against the Capitals.
With the Lightning in penalty trouble early, the Sharks swarmed around Dwayne Roloson before Logan Couture took an incredible between the legs feed from Joe Thornton and fired a rising shot into the net to score his team-leading 23rd goal.
The game would take a disturbing turn, however, when San Jose defenseman Douglas Murray took an errant puck to the throat after a Vincent Lecavalier shot deflected off of his stick. The impact left him with difficulty breathing as he made his way to the bench, and after appearing to cough up a noticeable amount of blood, was escorted to the locker room by the Sharks' medical staff. The team would later report that Murray would not return to the game, but otherwise did not update the media on his condition.
After a brief stoppage, both teams got back to business, and the Lightning would draw even midway through the first period when Steven Stamkos scored on a diving swipe at a Brendan Mikkelson rebound — a fitting way to celebrate his 300th NHL game.
The Sharks attempted to retake their lead on the power play, but Roloson and the Tampa PK came up strong, leading the way to a man advantage for Tampa in the final minutes of the first period. Teddy Purcell then sent a sharp angle shot through Antti Niemi's legs to put the home team ahead for the first time.
In the second period, another early scramble around the Tampa net appeared to go the Sharks' way, but the Michael Handzus goal was briefly in question due to Tampa's Brett Clark dislodging the net during the play. The war room was asked to rule on the goal, and the call on the ice was upheld, tying the game once again.
The tie would stand through much of the second period, but a series of goals in the final minutes saw the Lightning pull ahead on a blast by Steve Downie. Back-to-back goals from Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Colin White put the Sharks back on top before the period came to an end.
If the second period belonged to San Jose, the third period belonged to the Lightning. Stamkos tied the game for the second time, taking a feed from Victor Hedman before one-timing the puck past Niemi, and Martin St. Louis scored his 17th goal of the year when a shot from the goal line hit the stick of Justin Braun and deflected into the net.
San Jose continued to pressure Roloson and the Tampa defense, racking up 45 shots in regulation, but the Lightning learned from their earlier mistakes, preventing the Sharks from creating the pressure around the crease that had been so effective earlier in the game.
It would take a breakdown in the Tampa defense to bring the Sharks back into the game, and Couture would once again take part, racing up ice before passing off to a trailing Tommy Wingels. The Miami University product lined up and fired a shot from the high slot, tying the game at 5-5.
Neither side would find an advantage before the end of regulation, but Tampa nearly put an end to the game early in overtime when Matt Gilroy broke through the San Jose defense before ringing his shot off the goal post. The Sharks responded with a long sequence of pressure against Roloson, but the veteran goaltender managed to turn aside every opportunity before his defense could finally clear the puck out of the zone.
The Lightning rewarded his effort when St. Louis squeaked a shot through Niemi at the top of the crease with just 28 seconds left in OT to carry the game, 6-5.