Recap: Panthers, Luongo repel Sharks to open road trip with 3-2 upset win

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Roberto Luongo stopped 52 shots and the Cats' PK came up huge in the third.

The Florida Panthers surprised San Jose by a 3-2 count last night at SAP Center, ending the Sharks six-game winning streak and keeping them tied with Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division.

Roberto Luongo made 28 stops in the third period as part of a 52-save effort in his best game since rejoining the Cats in the pre-deadline day deal that sent Shawn Matthias and Jacob Markstrom to Vancouver.

After a scoreless opening period, Marty Havlat staked the powerful Sharks to a 1-0 lead at the 4:02 mark of the second frame with a power-play tally.

The Panthers seized control with three straight goals before the period ended, with the first two strikes coming in a seventeen-second span.

Brandon Pirri scored an unassisted goal to even the game, and then quickly put another shot on net that Sharks keeper Antti Niemi had trouble with. Quinton Howden knocked the rebound home to give the Cats a 2-1 lead. Jimmy Hayes picked up the secondary helper on Howden's third goal since being recalled from AHL San Antonio last week.

The Sharks pressured the Panthers late in the frame, looking to forge a tie, but Scottie Upshall scored a huge goal, from Joey Crabb and Nick Bjugstad, to give Florida a much-needed cushion heading to the third.

Luongo earned his First Star honors with a monster third period, yielding only once to Brent Burns at 16:57, as the Sharks peppered him with an astounding, franchise-record twenty-nine shots, while the Panthers only managed to come up with two of their own.

Brother Louie and the Cats killed off four penalties in the final frame, including a 51-second five on three,  to hold on for the victory, which pushed Florida's point total to sixty on the season.

Odds & Ends

  • The win raised Luongo's record to 3-2-1 in the early stages of his second stint with the Panthers. Pretty impressive considering the depleted state of Florida's lineup right now.
  • Kudos to Florida's penalty killers, who went five for six against a Sharks power play that has been struggling at home lately.
  • The third period barrage in shots by San Jose gave the Sharks a huge, but somewhat misleading 54-24 advantage for the game. Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski each finished with seven. Luongo robbed Pavelski with less than a minute to go to maintain the Cats' fragile lead.
  • Brandon Pirri posted his second straight two-point game, giving him seven points in his last five outings. The Pirri deal is looking like a very shrewd move by GM Dale Tallon.
  • In a couple of milestones, defenseman Dmitry Kulikov suited up for his 300th NHL game and Garrett Wilson made his NHL debut. Wilson logged 8:07 of ice time on the fourth line and finished with an even rating, while failing to register a shot on a goal.
  • Quinton Howden has now picked up a point in all four games since being recalled from the Rampage.
  • The Sharks dropped just their second game in the month of March against seven wins. This team is not easy to beat, so hats off to the Cats for holding on and coming away with two points last night.
  • From more on last night's stunner, take a dip in the chilly waters of the Bay Area at Fear The Fin.

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