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Road weary Sharks blow another lead
Second consecutive bomb against a cellar dweller
2/13/11 - By Mike Lee -

If you missed Friday’s 3rd period failure against the New Jersey Devils, the Sharks played an encore in South Florida on Sunday, losing to the Florida Panthers 3-2 at the BankAtlantic Center. The Sharks blew yet another 3rd period lead, surrendering two goals to an opponent that had no business even being in the game to gag up their second consecutive loss. The loss, combined with Anaheim’s 4-0 win over Edmonton, the Sharks slipped to 7th place in the Western Conference Standings.

The Los Angeles Kings also won on Sunday to draw within a point of the Sharks for the Pacific Division cellar. Florida had lost 5 home games in a row entering Sunday’s contest, and looked as if they were destined for a 6th straight loss after the first 39 minutes of the contest. San Jose controlled the possession game, and did everything to dominate the Panthers except score a bushel of goals.

That absence of scoring and a lack of focus in the 3rd period would end up costing San Jose in the end. The one positive for the Panthers entering the game was that goaltender Thomas Vokoun owned a 9-1-1 record against the Sharks, not having lost to San Jose in regulation since 2000. His eleven years of dominance played more of a role as the game went on.

After skating circles around the Panthers in the first 10 minutes of the game, San Jose would control the ice, but without putting any rubber past Vokoun, it was meaningless. The Sharks top offensive players reverted to the non-participatory role, providing no offense for the Sharks. San Jose’s early scoring came from an unlikely source.

Kent Huskins would bag his 2nd goal of the season and the road trip a minute later with a blast from the top of the left circle. Joe Pavelski setup the goal by cutting in front of Panthers goaltender Thomas Vokoun from behind the net as Huskins fired his shot on net. The puck would slip inside the left post for the 1-0 lead.

San Jose would pick up the pace after the goal, buzzing Vokoun with a steady stream of shots. They would outshoot Florida 10-4 in the period, but Huskins would just miss adding to the tally when a blast late in the period clanked off the left post. His shot came off a cross-ice feed that would have given the Sharks a two-goal lead going into the first intermission.

A roughing call against Torrey Mitchell would put Florida on the power play 1:50 into the 2nd period, but it would be the Sharks that would generate more offensive chances during the Panther man-advantage.

The Sharks would control the pace and the puck for next five minutes, building to a great scoring chance when Pavelski made a feed from behind the Panthers net to Mitchell in the slot, but the forward missed the puck. The Panthers would counter attack and draw Douglas Murray into a questionable cross checking penalty at 7:19.

Once again, the anemic Florida power play would generate little with the man advantage. Problem is, the penalties would begin to mount for San Jose. Joe Pavelski would follow Mitchell to the box at 12:51 with a holding penalty.

San Jose let their guard down late in the period after a Darcy Hordichuck hit on Dan Boyle wound up the Panthers. Jamal Mayers would try to engage Hordichuck, but defenseman Bryan Allen would step in to fight the Sharks tough guy.

Florida would push the ensuing faceoff into the San Jose zone and create a goal, when a Mike Santorelli shot from the right side hit Niemi in the pad and deflected into the Sharks net. Santorelli was behind the goal line as he whipped the puck toward Niemi, who had stepped out of the crease to cover the shot. The goal came with 28.9 seconds left in the period to wipe away all the hard work from the previous 39 minutes.

Joe Pavelski would put the sharks back on top 2:02 into the 3rd period on a put back chance in front of Vokoun. Vokoun got a piece of a Mitchell shot from the right side, but the puck deflected past him and off the left post to Pavelski, who had circled to the left side after cycling through on a shot attempt moments earlier. The goal was Pavelski’s 9th point in the last seven games.

San Jose would go on the power play for the first time in the game 14 seconds after Pavelski’s goal when Mike Weaver was sent off for hooking. San Jose would do nothing with the man-advantage which would bite them later in the period.

Chris Higgins would knot the game at 2-2 at 10:36 on a backhand chance from the slot. The Panthers winger would take a feed from the left wing boards and head for the slot before getting his shot off with Jason Demers in his face. Niemi seemed crossed up on the shot, as his pad save attempt missed the puck.

The Higgins goal energized the no-name Panthers and sent the Sharks into a defensive shell, putting little in Vokoun’s direction.

San Jose would get pinned in their own end with three minutes to play, allowing Florida to run roughshod over the defense. Jason Garrison would end the suspense by firing a shot just inside the left post after San Jose whiffed on several chances to clear the puck. The biggest offense came at the hands of captain Joe Thornton who botched a simple chance to clear things, coughing up the puck along the left wing boards.

Thornton finished the game a minus three, showcasing the failings of the Sharks top paid players.

San Jose would pull Niemi, but San Jose seems to have forgotten what to do with the puck once they have the man-advantage.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 1 0 1 2
FLA 0 1 2 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Huskins 2 (Pavelski, Mitchell), 12:57.
2nd period - 2, FLA, Santorelli 15 (Stillman, Ellerby), 19:31.
3rd period - 3, SJ, Pavelski 12 (Heatley, Mitchell), 2:02. 4, FLA Higgins 10 (Reasoner, Wideman), 10:36. 5, FLA, Garrison 3 (Reasoner, Higgins), 17:59.
Penalties
1st period - None.
2nd period - Mitchell, SJ (roughing), 1:50; Murray, SJ (cross checking), 7:19; Pavelski, SJ (holding), 12:51; Mayers, SJ (roughing), 18:13; Mayers, SJ (fighting major), 18:13; Allen, FLA (instigator), 18:13; Allen, FLA (fighting major, 18:13; Allen, FLA (10 min misconduct), 18:13.
3rd period - Weaver, FLA (hooking), 2:16.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Niemi 22 19
FLA - Vokoun 30 28
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 10 11 9 30
FLA 4 7 11 22
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 1
FLA 0 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Jason Garrison
Chris Higgins
Mike Santorelli
Attendence
16,217
Officials
Referees: McCauley, Watson. Linesmen: Amell, Lazarowich.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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