Matt Nieto scored the deciding goal and the Sharks started a difficult five-game road trip with a 4-2 win over the Lightning at Amalie Arena on Tuesday night.
On the winning goal, Nieto received a pass from Patrick Marleau on a two-on-one before dekeing Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop and slipping it inside the post at 1:17 of the third period, breaking a 2-2 tie.
Melker Karlsson added the dagger for San Jose, taking advantage of a slick backhanded pass from Joe Thornton before humming it through Ben Bishop with 1:43 to go in regulation.
Nieto (1g, 1a), Thornton (2a) and Joel Ward (1g, 1a) all had multiple-point nights for the Sharks, who improved to 12-2-3 in their last 16.
San Jose won its 30th game (30-20-5, 65 points) and drew to within four points of the first place Kings with a game in hand, as Los Angeles dropped a 3-1 decision to Washington earlier on Tuesday.
The Sharks withstood some early pressure by the Lightning, but eventually fell behind at 17:51 on a breakaway goal by Ryan Callahan, aided by Paul Martin going to the bench on an early change.
San Jose tied it in the second. Ward waited for a screen to develop in front of Bishop before unleashing a slap shot that squeaked through at 1:43.
Joe Pavelski snapped a six-game goal-scoring drought in giving the Sharks their first lead, when he got open in the slot and whacked home a setup from behind the net by Thornton at 6:34 of the middle frame.
The Lightning replied, though, when Cedric Paquette whipped in a loose puck at 8:46 to knot it at 2-2 after 40 minutes.
Tampa Bay won the first and only other meeting of the season series at SAP Center on Dec. 5, 4-3.
The Sharks finished 0-for-3 on the power play. Tampa Bay was 0-for-2, including a brief power play with just 13 seconds left in regulation.
Martin Jones made his 10th start in the last 11 games for San Jose, finishing with 28 saves. He’s 11-2-1 in his last 14 starts overall, and was playing against the Lightning for the first time in his career.
Bishop took the loss, allowing four goals on 31 shots.
Thornton has at least one point in 24 of the last 26 games, with eight goals and 26 assists over that span.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic assisted on Ward’s goal, extending his point/assist streak to eight games.
Brenden Dillon missed his third straight game with an upper body injury. He is expected to play at some point on the Sharks’ road trip.
Former Sharks draft pick Matt Carle played in his 700th career NHL game.
San Jose will remain in Florida for its next game on Thursday against the Panthers, who lost at SAP Center on Nov. 5, 5-2.