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Panthers expose plenty of holes
Defensive lapses run rampant in 5-3 loss to Florida
12/3/11 - By Mike Lee -

The Florida Panthers have been one of the biggest surprises in the NHL this season, but the haphazard play of the Sharks defense overshadowed everything on Saturday night. San Jose's blueline corps played arguably their worst game of the season, handing the Panthers their league best 9th road win of the season. The Panthers took advantage of a gaggle of Shark miscues and the league's worst penalty kill to win 5-3 at HP Pavilion.

Perhaps it's just a hex. San Jose hasn't defeated the Panthers since 2006, which is saying something considering that Florida hasn't qualified for the playoffs in ten years.

“I think we gave them that game on couple of soft, stupid plays of us. Stupid “D”," said Dan Boyle, who had a tough night.

The Sharks took a 2-1 lead into the 2nd period, then the defense went on a turnover-fest, which led to three goals by the Panthers. The league's third worst penalty kill also contributed to the nightmarish game by surrendering a pair of goals during the collapse.

Sharks head coach Todd McLellan didn't mask his displeasure with his team after the game.

“The amount of times that the puck was on our tape and then on theirs...I don’t want to discredit their game, they played hard and they were a good fore checking team," said McLellan. "We were very sloppy. That is probably as poorly as I’ve seen our six D play in four years, altogether as in turnovers. The forwards did not create much of a fore check. So it was a full team game. So if we don’t want to work today we will find some time tomorrow to do it.”

Logan Couture got things off to a spectacular start 76 seconds into the game, firing a shot past Panthers backup goaltender Scott Clemmensen. Couture was skating away from the net as he took a pass from Brent Burns, then pivoted and took a sweeping shot on goal. Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov tried to get a hand on the puck, but it hit him in the glove and deflected past Clemmensen.

A poor tripping penalty to Dan Boyle empowered Florida to tie the game just under 8 minutes into the game. Stephen Weiss punched home his 9th goal of the season after Douglas Murray impeded his own netminder, by getting his stick in the way of a Thomas Greiss glove hand.

The tie was short lived after Jamie McGinn scored his second goal in as many games, punching home a Michal Handzus feed from behind the Panthers net.

San Jose got a scare early in the 2nd period when Martin Havlat was hit from behind by Sean Bergenheim. Havlat had his back to Bergenheim, who tried to vault over the Sharks forward. Bergenheim's knees hit Havlat square in the back, sending the Shark's face crashing into the ice.

A pair of gaffs by the Sharks defense would cost them dearly.

Former Shark Marco Sturm re-tied the game at 5:37 of the period after defenseman Colin White turned the puck over in the San Jose zone. Sturm pounced on the loose puck and cut across the top of the crease from left to right before slipping a backhand shot past Greiss.

Brent Burns followed White's miscue with a turnover of his own less than two minutes later and Tomas Fleischmann made them pay. Burns coughed up the puck along the right wing boards, where Kris Versteeg capitalized, scooping up the loose puck and sliding a pass to Fleischmann in from of the Sharks net. With no defenders in sight, Fleischmann waited out Greiss and he floated across the top of the crease, wrapping the puck around the Shark netminder for his 12th goal of the season.

San Jose drew their first power play of the game 16:14 on a slash by Bergenheim. What happened next was inexcusable. Trying to setup the attack, Boyle made a half-hearted pass that was intercepted by Jack Skille at the Sharks blueline. Skille then circled around Boyle and raced on in net before slipping the puck past Greiss.

Brad Winchester impeded a Sharks comeback by taking an illegal check to the head penalty on what appeared to be a run of the mill check on Mark Cullen early in the 3rd period. Winchester contacted Cullen with a shoulder-on-shoulder check against the glass at center ice, but referee Chris Rooney deemed it a head shot from his position along the end boards.

San Jose killed the penalty to Winchester but it burned valuable time.

Fleischmann took another Panthers slashing penalty with 6:39 to play giving the Sharks a crack to exploit. Couture responded quickly, one-timing a Havlat feed from the left wing boards past Clemenssen.

Jason Demers made the notion of a comeback an absolute impossibility by taking a bad holding penalty with 3:10 to play. Kulikov then added to the Sharks penalty kill issues by pumping a shot that Greiss got a piece of, but couldn't stop. The shot trickled over the goal line to cap the implosion.

“We played such a good game in L.A. and we didn’t get points," said former Sharks defenseman Brian Campbell. " It was really frustrating and coming back and even being down. I think they were up 1-0 and 2-1 and to keep coming back, it was a big road effort.”



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
FLA 1 3 1 5
SJ 2 0 1 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Couture 9 (Burns), 1:16. 2, FLA, Weiss 9 (Fleischmann, Versteeg), 7:53, (pp). 3, SJ, McGinn 4 (Handzus, White), 11:44.
2nd period - 4, FLA, Sturm 2 (unassisted), 5:37. 5, FLA, Fleischmann 12 (Versteeg, Weiss), 7:15. 6, FLA, Skille 2 (unassisted), 18:09, (sh).
3rd period - 7, SJ, Couture 10 (Havlat, Demers), 13:39, (pp). 8, FLA, Kulikov 2 (Weiss, Fleischmann), 18:25, (pp).
Penalties
1st period - Boyle, SJ (tripping), 7:12.
2nd period - Burns, SJ (roughing), 10:20; Bergenheim, FLA (slashing), 16:14.
3rd period - Winchester, SJ (illegal check to head), 3:07; Fleischmann, FLA (slashing), 13:21; Demers, SJ (holding), 16:50; Jovanovski, FLA (roughing), 20:00; Winchester, SJ (roughing), 20:00; Winchester, SJ (10 min misconduct), 20:00.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
FLA - Clemmensen 26 23
SJ - Greiss 35 30
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
FLA 12 15 8 35
SJ 8 9 9 26
Power Play Conversion
FLA 2 of 4
SJ 1 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Tomas Fleischmann
Scott Weiss
Logan Couture
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Dwyer, Rooney. Linesmen: Lazarowich, Nelson.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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