The grand Joe Thornton reunion finally
happened on Tuesday night at SAP Center. The Panthers seemed destined on
winning it for Jumbo. The Sharks seemed destined to lose it as a gift to their
former heart and soul. The Panthers overcame a 2-1 deficit in the 3rd period,
tying it on a Frank Vatrano goal, then winning it when the Panthers centerman
blasted his second tally of the game in overtime.
It was nothing new
for the Sharks. A lack of attention to details cost them, and a lack of
firepower took them out of it when it mattered the most.
jumped on a Panthers penalty 8:19 into the game after Radko Gudas was sent off
for hooking. San Jose was working the puck in the Florida zone when Erik
Karlsson ripped a shot that caught Gustav Forsling in the ankle. That hobbled
the Panthers defenseman, essentially giving the Sharks a 5-on-3 advantage.
Tomas Hertl gathered a feed from Timo Meier behind the end line before sliding
a pass to Logan Couture out front for a put back that lifted over goaltender
Spencer Knight's right shoulder for the power play goal.
San Jose went
back on the power play 2 minutes later when Aleksander Barkov, but this time
things went in the opposite direction. An errant pass by Meier in the offensive
zone turned into a 2-on-1 break for Florida, which ended with Jonathan
Huberdeau picking a corner from point blank range to beat James Reimer who was
making his return after a four game absence.
Nicolas Meloche made it a
2-1 Sharks lead with 6 minutes to play in the opening period. The defenseman
snapped a shot from between the circles, beating Knight to the low stick side.
The Panthers served up a series of golden opportunities to the Sharks
in the middle period, by taking 3 more penalties that resulted in power play
chances. 7 minor penalties were handed out to the two teams in the period.
Florida tied the game 3:29 into the 3rd period after Logan Couture
decided that a lazy backhand clearing attempt was the right choice in his own
zone. It wasn't. Noel Acciari intercepted Couture's meek attempt at a clear,
then sent it to Frank Vatrano, who pumped a shot from the slot past Reimer for
his 9th goal of the season.
Timo Meier missed on a chance from the
left side on the ensuing faceoff.
Mason Marchment, son of former Shark
Bryan Marchment, appeared to put the Panthers up at 8:52 of the period, but the
Sharks successfully challenged for goaltender interference. Marchment plowed
into Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who in turn fell into Reimer, so the goal was
Florida out-shot San Jose 16-3 in the 3rd period and
probably should have won it in regulation, but a series of shots off the post
and some timely goaltending from Reimer allowed San Jose to earn the lone point
for reaching the extra period.
That 20 minute stretch just exposed the
obvious. The Sharks aren't in the same class as Florida, and are miles from
contending for a playoff spot. Florida was just a dominant team that turned on
the jets when they needed to.
Vatrano ended it in the overtime period
with a shot from the slot that Reimer never had a chance to stop.
* Joe Thornton received a lengthy standing ovation
before Tuesday's game. Only 12,276 were in attendance to see Thornton's return,
which is more than 5,000 less than capacity.
* Erik Karlsson was a -3
on the night. Logan Couture was a -2.
* Florida finished the game with
34 shots, 19 missed shots, and had 25 shots blocked.
Bobrovsky was supposed to start the game in net, but he needed 17 stitches to
close his upper lip after taking a puck to the face while sitting on the bench
in Los Angeles on Sunday.
* Thornton had several family and friends in
attendance, including his wife Tabea.