For much of the season, the Florida Panthers have struggled to score goals. That’s not the case now.
After putting up a season-high seven in Nashville, the Cats poured in a half dozen more in a 6-5 overtime over the Pacific Division leading San Jose Sharks at SAP Center.
Jonathan Huberdeau took a backhand pass from Aleksander Barkov and beat Martin Jones from right out in front 1:38 into the extra session to give Florida the much-needed bonus point.
Birthday “Boy” Jaromir Jagr made some more history during the game, becoming the second NHLer after Wayne Gretzky to reach the 1,900 point plateau with a snesational primary assist (Alex Petrovic had the secondary) on Barkov’s second goal of the night that put the Cats up 5-3 with 7:19 left in regulation.
Speaking of Gretzky, the Panthers seemingly opened up the Edmonton Oilers playbook from the 1980s to score three pretty goals in a 2:52 span of the first period to jump out to a 3-1 lead.
First, Vincent Trocheck sent Reilly Smith and Jussi Jokinen in on a 2-on-1 break and the veteran Finn finished off a sweet pass from Smith to open the scoring.
The Sharks quickly tied the game when Brent Burns took a pass from Joe Pavelski and whistled a wrist shot by Roberto Luongo just 31 seconds later.
Aaron Ekblad’s sensational frozen rope sent Nick Bjugstad in alone on Jones 44 seconds after that, and the long Minnesotan fired the puck home while falling to the ice. Mark Pysyk drew the second helper on the play.
The Sharks cut the deficit to one in the latter part of the wild first period when Burns’ shot was deflected by Joe Thornton and Joel Ward on it’s way into the net.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic tied the game with the second period’s lone goal when he banked a shot off of Barkov’s stick and in at the 6:27 mark.
Bjugstad put the Panthers back on top 2:15 into the final frame, one-timing a Petrovic set up for his first multi-goal game of the season.
Pavelski scored two late goals to send the tilt to overtime. Luongo left game after the game-tying tally with 38 seconds left, apparently due to a problem with cramps.
James Reimer came on in relief and made two saves to get the win.
The victory coupled with Toronto’s 5-2 loss to Columbus pulled the Cats within three points of the Maple Leafs for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers have a game in hand on the budding Buds.
Tales & Fins
- Did the Panthers miss Jonathan Huberdeau or what? The crafty forward has put up three goals and four assists in the four games since his return from an Achilles injury. When he’s been good during his young career, Huberdeau has been the player scouts envisioned. These last four games, he’s been the player fans envisioned him becoming.
- Brent Burns’ goal was his 300th point in a San Jose uniform. Burns (61 points) is tied with Sidney Crosby for second in the league in scoring.
- Roberto Luongo made 29 saves before departing the game late in the action. If he’s a no go for Anaheim, the Cats will call up Reto Berra, Mike McKenna or Sam Brittain to back up James Reimer.
- The Cats scored their six goals on just 22 shots. Not the best of night’s for Martin Jones one would think, but all of Florida’s goals came on quality scoring plays.
- Joe Pavelski totaled three points, including his 20th goal that tied the game, but his penalty shot miss in the second proved costly.
- Nick Bjugstad has a three-game point streak going. The last time Big Bjugs scored twice in a game was on December 4, 2014 against the Blue Jackets.
- This time, you won’t need a bigger boat when you visit Fear The Fin for their take on the game.