Florida Panthers center Frank Vatrano (77) jumps into the arms of his teammates at the SAP Center in San Jose after scoring a goal in overtime to win a narrow contest against the San Jose Sharks on Tue Mar 15, 2022 (AP News photo)
By Mary Walsh
SAN JOSE- The San Jose Sharks fell to the Florida Panthers 3-2 in overtime on Tuesday. Frank Vatrano scored twice, including the game winner, and Jonathan Huberdeau scored once for Florida. Spencer Knight made 24 saves for the win.
Logan Couture and Nicolas Meloche scored for San Jose and James Reimer made 31 saves in the loss. Joe Thornton, in his first return to the Shark Tank, had 10:03 of ice time for Florida.
The Sharks took the lead at 8:19 of the first period, on the power play. Tomas Hertl moved the puck up from below the goal line and Logan Couture redirected it in. Assists went to Hertl and Timo Meier. During the penalty kill, Florida’s Gustav Forsling blocked a shot with his ankle. He stayed down for a bit, made it to his feet, but had to be helped off the ice after the goal. He was out for the rest of the period but came back for the second.
Jonathan Huberdeau tied the game with a short-handed goal at 11:21. He intercepted a pass to nobody in the defensive zone, carried the puck to the other end, two-on-one. He didn’t have a pass so he took the the shot. It was the ninth short-handed goal of the season for Florida.
Nicolas Meloche got the lead back for the Sharks at 13:58. Marc-Edouard Vlasic caught up with a puck on its way out, whipped it back to Hertl, who passed it right on to Meloche. Meloche had some speed as he was moving into the zone and his shot zipped by Knight on the glove side.
Tomas Hertl had a chance to make it 3-1 near the end of the second period but it went off of the near post. That had to sting as he was in pretty close to miss that one.
The Panthers tied it again at 3:29 of the third with a goal from Frank Vatrano. Noel Acciari intercepted a clearing attempt by Logan Couture and centered the puck for Vatrano to rifle past Reimer.
The Panthers put the puck in the net at 8:52 but the Sharks challenged it for goaltender interference. Mason Marchment carried the puck in and took the shot but in the process he knocked both Eetu Luostarinen and Marc-Edouard Vlasic into Reimer. The goal was called back.
For the second time this season, the Panthers beat the Sharks in overtime. Frank Vatrano scored at 1:11 with a slapshot from high in the slot. An assists went to Gustav Forsling and Sam Reinhart.
The Sharks out-shot the Panthers 11-7 in the first and 12-9 in the scoreless second. In the third, the Panthers out-shot the Sharks by wide margin, 16-3. The Panthers spent a lot of time in the penalty box in the first two periods. The Sharks had to kill two penalties in the game, while the Panthers had to kill five, including some five-on-three time. The teams played four-on-four twice in the second period.
In all, the Sharks power play got eleven shots and one goal. The Panthers power play got four shots, but their penalty kill got two shots and a goal. The Sharks prevailed in face-offs, winning 55% of the draws, though they were better in the first two periods, winning 61% and 75%.
The Sharks next play on Thursday in Los Angeles against the Kings at 7:00 PM PT.