Frank the Tank! Florida Panthers Post-Game Recap: Game # 60 vs. the San Jose Sharks
Tonight’s late-night matchup featured Spencer Knight making his second consecutive start on this west coast road-trip. He would square off San Jose netminder James Reimer, who was recently activated off of Injured Reserve. Side note: Happy birthday to the former Panther James Reimer!
The Sharks held a special pre-game ceremony for Panthers Forward Joe Thornton, which included a video package of his career highlights with the Sharks. Thornton played for San Jose from 2005 until 2020. The future Hall of Famer saluted the crowd in San Jose before the initial puck drop.
Florida got themselves behind the 8-ball early, as Radko Gudas would take a hooking penalty early in the first period. San Jose would capitalize on the Power Play opportunity after Gustav Forsling of Florida blocked a shot from Erik Karlsson. Forsling was stung by the shot, and was unable to recover in time. Forsling took the full brunt of the Karlsson shot to the inside of his left knee, and was unable to put any weight on it leading to an open scoring chance that Logan Couture buried to put San Jose ahead 1–0. Forsling would require assistance getting off the ice and down the tunnel for evaluation. He did not return in the first period. Florida would shortly after take another penalty, as captain Aleksander Barkov would take a high-sticking penalty. While on the Penalty Kill, Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau would take advantage of a misplay by the Sharks to lead a 2-on-1 breakaway with Sam Bennett. Huberdeau would keep the puck for himself and bury a beautiful wrist-shot past Reimer to tie the game 1–1. San Jose would eventually score again towards the end of the first period after a Joe Thornton turnover led to an open opportunity for Nicolas Meloche. Meloche was able to sneak a high-slot shot past Spencer Knight on the blocker side to put the Sharks ahead 2–1, and it was a goal that Knight would probably like to have back. Florida would go into the first intermission down 2–1 against the Sharks.
The second period started off on a better note for Florida, as Gustav Forsling would return to the ice after shaking off the blistering shot block from Karlsson. That however would appear to be the only highlight for the Panthers during that second period. The Sharks wouldn’t extend the lead throughout the period, however Florida would be highly undisciplined and took five separate minor penalties. A couple of the penalties were offsetting minors with San Jose leading to 4-on-4 play, but Weegar alone would take two minor penalties. His first was for throwing the puck out of play without hitting the glass leading to a delay of game, and his second was a bench minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. The second Weegar penalty bled into the start of the third period. It was a very sloppy and uncharacteristic period by the Panthers, so they needed to get back to playing their style of hockey in the third period to attempt to tie up this game. San Jose would take the 2–1 lead into the second intermission.
The third period would begin with Florida spending another 1:26 shorthanded due to the Weegar penalty, which they would kill the rest of. Florida would then tie the game 2–2 shortly after the Weegar penalty ended off a wicked one-timer from the stick of Frank Vatrano. The goal was scored around 3:30 into the period, and was one that the Panthers desperately needed. Mason Marchment of Florida would put another one past Reimer to pull Florida ahead 3–2, however San Jose would challenge that Reimer was interfered with. Officials, upon further review, determined that Marchment caused contact with Reimer prior to the puck crossing the line so the goal would be disallowed. The score would remain tied 2–2 with about 10 minutes remaining in the game. Neither team would pull ahead prior to the end of regulation, despite the play heavily favoring Florida. They would head into Overtime tied 2–2.
Florida would continue their dominance through the overtime period, and Frank Vatrano would score his second of the game, this time the game winner, at 1:11 of the overtime period. Florida went to overtime for the second straight game, but this time come out on top with the extra point.
Florida‘s record improves to 41–13–6 for 88 points, and remain at the top of the Atlantic division. This win also propels them to #1 in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes. The Colorado Avalanche remain the #1 team in the NHL with 91 points in 61 games played.
Florida will look to continue their strong play on this road-trip with a matchup in Vegas against the Golden Knights on Thursday, March 17th. That game will start at 10:30pm Eastern time.
- (SJS 1–0) Logan Couture (20) at 8:19, assisted by Tomas Hertl (22) and Timo Meier (33)
- (FLA 1–1) Jonathan Huberdeau (19) at 11:21, unassisted
- (SJS 2–1) Nicolas Meloche (2) at 13:58, assisted by Tomas Hertl (23) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (10)
- No scoring
- (FLA 2–2) Frank Vatrano (9) at 3:29, assisted by Noel Acciari (2)
- (FLA 3–2) Game-Winning Goal — Frank Vatrano (10) at 1:11, assisted by Gustav Forsling (22) and Sam Reinhart (36)