After winning their first two games of the season, the Florida Panthers have now failed in four subsequent opportunities to post back-to-back victories, this time falling to the San Jose Sharks 4-2 at the BB&T Center.
The Panthers got off to a rousing start with former Shark defenseman Jason Demers notching his first two goals in a Panthers uniform to build a two-goal lead.
Demers opened the scoring 5:09 into the first when he blew a big slap shot by Martin Jones after Jared McCann’s centering feed for Denis Malgin failed to connect, but fortuitously came through the slot and into the right circle. The assist was McCann first as a Panther and just his second point of the season.
It only took another 2:17 for Demers to bag his second goal of the night. This time the veteran knocked home a loss puck in front after Jaromir Jagr’s shot from the circle was blocked by teammate Aleksander Barkov. The play started off after Mark Pysyk made a nice stop at the Florida blue line and got it up to Jonathan Marchessault.
The Sharks halved the deficit and pulled the plug on the Cats momentum when Brent Burns scored with 3:42 left in the period. After blocking a shot in own end, the burly defenseman sped down ice, got inside of Demers and shoveled the puck by James Reimer. The Cats came close to scoring before Burns made his impressive rush and turned the game around.
Joe Pavelski evened the game 1:53 into the second period after taking a pass from Joel Ward and solved Reimer easily on the glove side. The Panthers looked to be in no immediate danger, but Ward was able to steal the puck away from Alex Petrovic on the boards and quickly feed the dangerous Pavelski.
The game remained tied until the third period, when Tommy Wingels struck the decisive blow at the 8:53 mark, sliding in a backhander after Chris Tierney won a faceoff in Florida’s end. Wingels was able to knock the puck away from Mike Matheson and gather it in before beating Reimer.
The Panthers could muster only seven shots on Jones in the final frame and had to watch more points swim away when Logan Couture iced the game with an empty-netter with 57 ticks left on the clock. Justin Braun drew the lone assist on the cinching goal.
Florida will wrap up the three-game homestand against the New York Islanders on Saturday night. Following that game, ten of the next twelve are on the road, so exacting a measure of revenge on the team that eliminated them from the playoffs is imperative.
Jaws & Tales
- Jussi Jokinen returned to the lineup and the results were not good. The reunited line of Jokinen, Vincent Trocheck and Reilly Smith went a combined -7. Jokinen missed an empty-net rebound chance right before Brent Burns made his run and scored the goal turned the tide for San Jose.
- The return of Jokinen, sent Kyle Rau to the press box where he joined new acquistion Dylan McIlrath and Shawn Thornton. I’d expect to see McIlrath debut Saturday against the Isles.
- After finding the back of the net twice and registering 11 shots on goal in the first period, the Panthers went cold the rest of the night, producing no goals and just 13 more shots on Martin Jones.
- Speaking of Jones, The Sharks keeper made his tenth straight start and raised his record to 7-6 on the year with the 22-save effort.
- The Panthers are now 4-3 when leading after the first period. That’s a trend that needs to reversed, fast.
- James Reimer made 25 stops for the Cats and saw his record fall to 2-2-1.
- Logan Couture’s empty-netter was his first goal in 11 games and just his third of the season.
- After ending an eight-game scoring drought against Tampa Bay, Aleksander Barkov has built himself a modest two-game point streak.
- For more on the game, test the murky of waters of Fear The Fin.