The way this game started out, we could have been in for a long ride. Yes, the Florida Panthers played the exact same game as they did Friday against Los Angeles save one crucial detail; scoring goals and lots of them. Florida would weather the early storm put on by the San Jose Sharks and create some momentum of their own en route to a 5-3 victory at HP Pavilion. Let me put this in perspective; the struggling Panthers upended the ever-skilled, dangerous Sharks in their own barn with a five goal outburst when after only scoring 6 in their last 4 games. It was a big game all around, but the secondary scoring was the key to the victory. And the goaltending, and the powerplay, and the penalty kill. Florida never gave up, and to take a quote from the gamethread, they played like they were down by one goal the entire game. These are the bounce-back wins during a tough stretch that will energize a team to new heights.
1st: Keeping the recent tradition alive, the Panthers would surrender an early goal, and I mean early. 1:16 into the game Logan Couture would send a shot past a somewhat screened Scott Clemmensen to take the lead. Certainly not a great position to start out with when the Panthers have been playing from behind for what seems like the last 5 games. A great shift from the 3rd line would result in a powerplay when Dan Boyle tripped up Mike Santorelli, a big opportunity considering the Sharks have a terrible penalty kill at home. Almost immediately Stephen Weiss would capitalize as his soft shot would trickle through as an out of position Thomas Greiss would whiff on the catch, assists to Tomas Fleischmann and Kris Versteeg. It wouldn't stay tied for very long however, Jamie McGuinn would be all alone out front and receive a pass from behind the net to regain the lead. That would be the extent of the scoring in the first period, overall Florida and San Jose had a good two way period with the Sharks taking advantage of a shaky Clemmensen.
2nd: Florida would start the off right with two consecutive shifts in the Sharks zone, including a great chance by Sean Bergenheim as he tried to stuff it in under Greiss. San Jose would cough up the puck to Marco Sturm, who'd skate along the goal line and slip the puck through the fivehole of Griess to tie the game yet again. Secondary scoring? Check. Your move first line. And one shift later, Brent Burns would send an errant pass which would be intercepted by Versteeg, who'd send it to an open Fleischmann who'd avoid Griess' poke check and bury the puck into an open net. Two pretty goals in about a minute for the road team. Jack Skille would be pulled down behind the net to give the Panthers their second powerplay of the night, which despite a great effort would come up empty. Sean Bergenheim would earn a slashing penalty late in the period, but that didn't stop the Panthers. Jack Skille, the most awesome player in the league who can't hit the net, would make a power-forward move driving into the net earning himself a shorthanded goal and a gold star for his scrapbook. 3 goals in the second period, Cats up 4-2.
3rd: Brad Winchester would take a "hit to the head" penalty on Mark Cullen at 3:07 into the period to give Florida their third powerplay of the night which would be killed. Fleischmann would take a slashing penalty 13(!) minutes later (yeah, slow period) and Couture would come up big again, a one-timer from between the circles would cut the Panthers lead in half. Jason Demers would take a holding penalty with three minutes remaining, and with San Jose trying everything possible to force a breakaway, they left the back door open. Dmitry Kulikov have a leisurely skate around the net, turn around and float the puck under Griess' arm to extend the lead to 5-3. And then we won.
- These last two games have been showcased by Marco Sturm's slick moves in the offensive zone, tonight it paid off against his old team. You can see why Tallon wanted to give him a chance in Florida.
- Funniest part about Jack Skille's goal? He never put a shot on goal, the puck deflected off Dan Boyle., proving yet again Skille can't hit the net (we'll take it anyways).
- Gotta love that VerWeissMann line, they come up big every night. Good to see Versteeg back in action.
- Is it just me or does the secondary powerplay unit look great? The addition of Shawn Matthias is already paying off.
- Sean Bergenhiem has been on fire lately, maybe he's tired of being doubted.
- Boy do they hate some Brian Campbell at the Shark Tank. Get over it. You dont see Nashville hating on Peter Forsberg.
- San Jose came into this game with a spotless record when leading first, but they can kiss that goodbye. Panthers battled back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to win the game.
- Fun Panthers stat: Florida is 4-0 in their last 4 games vs San Jose. Kryptonite.
- These are those kind of late night dream-like wins, when the game starts on Saturday and ends on Sunday, that one will become accustomed to in the Twilight Zone. DODEDEWDO
Up Next: Washington and that new coach guy they hired.