Panthers postpone Sharks playoff clinching celebration

Photo credit: sun-sentinel.com

By Daniel Dullum
Sports Radio Service
Thursday, March 14, 2019

Any celebration of the San Jose Sharks clinching a playoff berth will have to wait, following a 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers Thursday at SAP Center.

Mike Hoffman’s tie-breaking power play goal late in the second period helped the Panthers win their third straight game after a six-game losing streak.

The loss, San Jose’s second regulation setback at home since Dec. 20, ended the Sharks’ six-game winning streak, as San Jose fell short in its opportunity to become the first NHL West team to clinch a postseason slot.

At the same time, the Sharks failed to build on their one-point lead over second-place Calgary in the Pacific Division race.

The Panthers, meanwhile, pulled to within seven points of Columbus for the second NHL East Wild Card spot, with 12 games to play.

Hoffman also set up Florida’s insurance goal by Frank Vatrano in the third period. Also scoring for the Panthers was Jamie McGinn and Dryden Hunt. Rookie goaltender Sam Montembeault stopped 26 San Jose shots to earn his first career road win.

Melker Karlsson and Kevin Lablanc scored for the Sharks, while Martin Jones made 23 saves.

Florida surged ahead in the second period after Riley Sheahan won a faceoff, passed to Troy Brouwer, who then fed Hunt for his second goal in two games.

After a bad line change led to the Sharks being whistled for too many men on the ice, Hoffman scored on the power play on a pass from Keith Yandle for his 32nd goal of the season.

The loss capped a bad day overall for the Sharks. It was learned that defenseman Radim Simek will need surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee, and forward Evander Kane was sidelined for personal reasons after announcing he and his wife recently lost a child during pregnancy.

The Sharks host Nashville on Saturday at 7:30 pm PT.

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