The Florida Panthers needed a bigger boat and found it in Frank Vatrano, who gave his club a 3-2 overtime win over former coach Bob Boughner, former goaltender James Reimer and the rest of the San Jose Sharks.
With the Cats trailing 2-1 early in the third period, Noel Acciari managed to keep the puck in the Sharks end and flipped t into the middle of the ice, where The Tank launched a one-timer that Reimer had no chance on to even things up at 3:29.
in overtime, Sam Reinhart won an offensive draw back to Vatrano and he passed over to Gustav Forsling, who loaded up The Tank one more time for the game-winner. Vatrano beat Reimer glove-side from the high slot again to give the Panthers the win 71 seconds into the extra session.
The other Florida goal came at 11:21 of the first period when Jonathan Huberdeau and Sam Bennett set off on a shorthanded 2-on-1 break. Brent Burns took away Huberdeau’s pass option, so he patiently waited before solving Reimer’s glove with a shot so perfectly placed that there was barely a reaction from the veteran keeper.
With Sergei Bobrovsky not feeling well, Spencer Knight was the surprise starter and made 24 saves to collect his 11th win of the season. Knight surrendered a power-play deflection goal to Logan Couture at the 8:19 mark, assists to Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier, and was beaten from high on the right side by Nicolas Meloche, who joined the play and finished off a backhand cross from Hertl with a low wrister at 13:58, A hustling Marc-Eduoard Vlasic held the puck in to earn the secondary assist.
Knight would settle down after the Meloche goal, stopping all 12 shots in the middle frame. The Panther completed dominated the third, outshooting the Sharks 16-3, lessening the rookie’s workload.
This was a big comeback victory for the Cats, who matched winning efforts from divisional rivals Toronto and Boston, maintaining their respective seven and nine-point leads on those teams with everybody having played sixty games. The Panthers opened up a six-point on the Tampa Bay Lightning, who will play their game in hand tonight against the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena. Florida gets today off before facing the reeling Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday.
Fins & Tales
- Frank Vatrano became the tenth Panther to hit double-digit goals this season. Vatrano logged 9:38 of ice time and registered a team-high four shots on goal.
- Joe Thornton last played in San Jose as a visitor on March 21, 2003 when he was a member of the Boston Bruins. Jumbo Joe posted a -1 rating in 10:03 TOI after missing 13 games with an undisclosed injury.
- Logan Couture’s first period goal gave him 20 on this season. He has scored at least 20 goals nine times in 13 NHL seasons.
- Jonathan Huberdeau notched this first goal of the month and extended his point streak to seven games. The Panthers lead the NHL with nine shorthanded markers.
- Aleksander Barkov had his five-game point/assist streak come to an end. He scored one goal and 11 points during the run.
- Birthday boy James Reimer returned from a lower-body injury that sidelined him the past two weeks to stop 31 shots to help his team earn a point.
- The Cats won both game against the Sharks in overtime, set sail to Fear The Fin for more.