The Florida Panthers defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-1 Tuesday night to climb back over the .500 mark in points at 5-4-4. Jimmy Hayes, Aleksander Barkov, Tomas Fleischmann and Derek MacKenzie provided the good stuff for Florida, while Joe Thornton found the score sheet late in the game for San Jose.
The Cats jumped out to a two-goal lead in the opening period and never looked back. Roberto Luongo made 21 saves in yet another sharp performance in his second Florida stint.
Hayes scored for the second game in a row to give Florida a 1-0 advantage at the 10:56 mark. Vincent Trocheck and Jussi Jokinen picked up the helpers with some pretty passing in the Sharks' end.
Barkov bagged the eventual game-winner just 82 seconds later from Scottie Upshall and Tomas Kopecky. Upshall found Barkov in front with a nice pass from the behind the net.
In the second period, MacKenize punched in the rebound of an Aaron Ekblad drive to put the Panthers up 3-0 at 6:37. Like the Hayes and Barkov tallies, the goal was MacKenzie's second of the season.
Ekblad would add another assist early in the third period by combining with Shawn Thornton to set up Fleischmann for his first of the season. That's right folks, Flash finally found the back of the net! Thornton made a sweet pass in front to give Fleischmann an easy crack at San Jose keeper Antti Niemi.
The Sharks finally got on the board midway through the final frame when Thornton beat Luongo with the assists going to Brent Burns and Tomas Hertl to complete the scoring.
After sagging defensively in their last two outings, the Panthers tightened things back up and delivered their best performance of the campaign so far. They held the Sharks to just 22 shots on goal, while also coming up with four goals for the second straight game, matching their season-high again. Coach Gerard Gallant rolled out some interesting line combinations that paid off, at least for one night. The Cats will need this kind of effort to best the red-hot New York Islanders, who invade Sunrise on Friday.
Flotsam and Jetsam
- The Panthers have to feel pretty good when they see the Sharks name coming up on the schedule. The win gave the Cats a 6-1 record in the last seven meetings between the two teams.
- The two helpers last night gave Aaron Ekblad the team scoring lead with 8 points (1G/7A). Pretty impressive first 13 games for the rookie, eh?
- Antti Niemi went the distance for the Sharks and finished with 26 saves on 30 Florida shots.
- Colby Robak filled in for the injured Dmitry Kulikov on the blue line and acquitted himself quite well, logging 17:19 TOI with one shot on goal.
- Scottie Upshall's assist gave him 4 points in the last two games. Upshall continues to be really effective when he's not sitting in the penalty box.
- Not to take anything away from the Cats, but the Sharks may have been a tad bit road-weary. San Jose played for the third time in the last four nights and sport a 1-2 record on their current seven-game road trip.
- Get yourself a bigger boat and sail over to Fear The Fin for more on last night's action.