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Florida Panthers Vs. San Jose Sharks: Game 26 Preview

The Florida Panthers conclude their West Coast road trip against the San Jose Sharks at the Shark Tank tonight.

The San Jose Sharks will be hosting the Florida Panthers tonight in their seasons only meeting. Florida is 8-6-0 away from the Bank-Atlantic Center,  and the Sharks are 7-4-1 at home. Florida has gone 1-2 on their current four-game road trip, losing 5-1 in Tampa Bay, beating the Hurricanes 3-1 in Carolina, then losing the the Kings, 2-1 on Thursday night. They will spend the night in San Jose before flying back to Sunrise tomorrow. They face the Washington Capitals, welcoming Tomas Vokoun back to Florida on home ice on Saturday night. The Sharks are in the second game of a four game homestand.  They beat the Montreal Canadians in a shootout, 4-3 on Thursday. They will go on to host the Minnesota Wild and the Dallas Stars before hitting the road again.

The teams last met in February, with Florida beating San Jose 3-2. The win would make the Panthers 24-24-7, and would be the last time Florida would be .500 on the season, finishing at 30-40-12. Kent Huskins put the Sharks on top with a first period goal, but Mike Santorelli scored his 15th to pull the Panthers even in the second. In the third, Joe Pavelski put the Sharks ahead 2-1 just two minutes in. Chris Higgins scored his tenth of the season and assisted Jason Garrison's game winner with two minutes remaining in the game. It was Garrison's third of the year. Vokoun stopped 28 of 30 shots for the victory.


Sharks @ Panthers 2/13/11 (via NHLVideo)

In Florida's last game, the Panthers lost to the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 in a spirited matchup on Thursday night.  Jose Theodore took the loss, stopping 24 of 26 shots. Bergenheim scored his third goal of the season as the Panthers peppered opposing goaltender Jonathan Quick with 42 shots.

Panthers @ Kings 12/01/11 (via NHLVideo)

San Jose took down the Montreal Canadians, 4-3 in a shootout on Thursday night. Antii Niemi stopped 29 of 32 shots for the win as Jamie McGinn, Logan Couture and Ryan Clowe each scored come from behind goals to tie the game for San Jose. Martin Havlat and Michal Handzus each scored in the shootout, which went six frames before Joe Pavelski ended it for the Sharks.

Canadiens @ Sharks 12/01/11 (via NHLVideo)

Season Series: 0-0-0

All-Time Series: 7-9-7

Game Time: 10:30 EST


Florida Panthers: 13-8-4, 30 points, first SE Division, third Eastern Conference, 10th NHL, on pace for 98 points.

Los Angeles Kings: 14-7-1, 29 points, third Pacific Division, seventh Western Conference, 13th NHL, on pace for 108 points.


Forward Kris Versteeg is probable after missing Thursday's game with a broken nose suffered against Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Goaltender Scott Clemmensen is listed as questionable. Forwards Matt Bradley, Scottie Upshall and Marcel Goc are all out. Forward Mikail Samuelsson is also listed as out, but may skate tonight against San Jose. Florida is keeping Mark Cullen, Bracken Kearns, Evgeni Dadonov and Tim Kennedy on the active roster to combat injury issues.

Probable Starters


Jose Theodore (10-5-3) will likely make the start for Florida, backed up by Clemmensen. Antti Niemi (10-4-1) may start for the Sharks. He is backed up by Thomas Greiss (4-3-0).


1. Fleischmann - Weiss - Versteeg

2. Sturm - Santorelli - Kopecky

3. Bergenheim - Matthias - Skille

4. Kennedy - Cullen/Kearns - Dadonov


1. Campbell - Garrison

2. Jovanovski - Gudbranson/Ellerby

3. Kulikov - Weaver

Common Thread:

Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell played 20 games for the Sharks in 2007-08, scoring three goals and 16 assists with a plus-nine rating and four penalty minutes. He also played in 13 playoff games that season, scoring one goal and six assists.

Panthers forward Marcel Goc played four seasons in San Jose from 2005-2009. In 265 games he scored 20 goals and 34 assists with a minus-30 rating and 76 penalty minutes. He also appeared in 31 playoff games for the Sharks.

Panthers forward Matt Bradley played three seasons for the Sharks from 2000-2003. In 121 games he scored 12 goals and 17 assists with a plus-21 rating and 99 penalty minutes. He appeared in 10 playoff games for San Jose.

Panthers forward Marco Sturm spent eight seasons with San Jose from 1997-2005. In 553 games he scored 128 goals and 145 assists with a plus-42 and 242 penalty minutes.

Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle played 129 games over four seasons for the Panthers from 1998-2002. He scored 10 goals and 29 assists with a minus-17 rating and 50 penalty minutes.

Team Milestones:

Ed Jovanovski's next goal will be his 32nd, which will move him into a tie for 32nd with Richard Zednik. His next assist will give him 58 with the Panthers, tying him with Paul Laus, in 30th.

Mike Santorelli's next goal will be number 24 as a Panther, moving him into a tie with Dave Gagner in 45th place all-time. 

Shawn Matthias' two goals on Tuesday moved him into the Panther Top-50.  His next goal will give him 21, moving him into a tie for 47th with Brett McLean.

Dmitry Kulikov's next assist will give him 48 for his career, moving him into a tie for 39th with Keith Ballard.  Two more points for Kulikov will move him into the Panthers All-Time Top 50.

Team Leaders:


Kris Versteeg - 12

Tomas Fleischmann - 11

Stephen Weiss, Jason Garrison - 8


Brian Campbell - 18

Stephen Weiss - 15

Dmitry Kulikov, Kris Versteeg - 14


Kris Versteeg - 26

Tomas Fleischmann - 24

Stephen Weiss - 23


Tomas Fleischmann - plus-14

Stephen Weiss - plus-13

Kris Versteeg - plus-12

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.