Florida solved San Jose backup goaltender Thomas Greiss five times on 35 shots while Scott Clemmensen turned away 23 of 26 as Florida tops San Jose at the Shark Tank, 5-3. Florida's VFW line finishes with eight points as Stephen Weiss and Tomas Fleischmann each score a goal and two assists while Kris Versteeg added two more assists for the Panthers.
Logan Couture scored his ninth goal of the season, quickly putting the Sharks on top with an assist from Brent Burns just over a minute into the game. San Jose controlled play for the first five minutes, looking faster and more aggressive than the Panthers.
Seven minutes into the game Dan Boyle was called for tripping Mike Santorelli. The top line didn't take long to capitalize on the man advantage, with Stephen Weiss scoring his ninth goal of the season with assists from Tomas Fleischmann and Kris Versteeg to pull the Panthers even at 1-1.
Four minutes later, Michal Handzus was parked behind the Panthers net and fed Jamie McGinn for his fourth goal of the season to put the Sharks on top, 2-1. Colin White was also credited with an assist on the play.
The Sharks continued to keep pressure on the Florida end, looking to add to their lead. Jack Skille, Marco Sturm and Mike Weaver had a chaotic flurry in front of the San Jose net, almost pulling the Cats even, but Greiss turned them aside. On the other end, Joe Thornton fed Joe Pavelski with a perfect pass which was saved by Scott Clemmensen's mask.
The period ended with Florida holding a 12-8 shot advantage while being outhit 9-8.
The Panthers started out the second period with a lot of good chances, getting five shots on goal in the first three minutes. Just over five minutes into it, Sean Bergenheim tried to jump over a falling Martin Havlat, but instead planted his knees firmly into the Sharks shoulders. Havlat was helped off the ice, but returned to action shortly thereafter.
Thornton again fed Pavelski with a great pass, but Clemmensen was up to the task. On the other end, Marco Sturm stole a pass and with a nifty bit of stickhandling fooled Greiss for his second goal of the season, unassisted to pull the Panthers even, at 2-2.
Less than two minutes later, Weiss stole a pass in the Sharks zone, feeding it to Versteeg who set up Fleischmann for his 12th goal of the season to put the Cats on top, 3-2.
The Sharks kept the puck in the Florida zone for a while, but the Panthers were crashing the boards and not letting San Jose get set up. Skille led a 3-on-2 break, and put a hard shot on goal as he was pushed into the boards by Brent Burns, who was called for roughing on the play.
Florida had a lot of good chances on the ensuing power play, but failed to add to their lead. When San Jose got back to even strength, they kept it in the Panthers zone for a while when Bergenheim was called for slashing Havlat.
The Sharks had trouble controlling the puck with the man advantage, and Jack Skille made them pay. He had two breakaway chances in one shift, scoring a shorthanded goal, his second of the season to put Florida ahead 4-2.
San Jose outhit Florida 10-2 in the period while Florida held a 15-9 shot advantage.
Jack Skille again stole the puck and nearly set up Marco Sturm for another goal in the San Jose zone, but was stopped by Greiss. Brad Winchester was called for a hit to the head of Mark Cullen. Florida put together a good power play, generating a lot of chances and keeping it in the zone almost the entire two minutes, but ultimately the Sharks killed it.
Sturm, Santorelli and Skille surprised San Jose with an odd man rush but Santorelli whiffed on the puck. Just a minute later, Versteeg led a 2-on-1 break but Colin White hurried back to break up the chance.
Fleischmann was called for slashing Pavelski, and San Jose scored with six minutes remaining in the period. Logan Couture scored his 10th of the season and second of the night with assists from Martin Havlat and Jason Demers, pulling the Sharks back to 4-3.
The Sharks looked reenergized after the goal, peppering Clemmensen with several fruitless shots before Dan Boyle almost tucked one right through the five hole, but Clemmensen stood strong.
Jason Demers was called for holding Kris Versteeg, and the Cats again scored on the power play. Dmitry Kulikov scored his second goal of the season with assists by Weiss and Fleischmann to close the scoring at 5-3 with less than two minutes remaining.
The Panthers then ran out the clock with good puck handling, mostly by Brian Campbell.
San Jose outhit Florida 27-10 and won 36 faceoffs against only 18 for the Cats.
Skille was really on point all night long, stealing pucks and making opportunities. His shorthanded goal was a reward a long time in coming for the winger.
The first line looked to be regaining some of their scoring touch, as Versteeg broke his three game scoreless drought.
Marco Sturm looked like he had something to prove back in San Jose, where he is still in their top 10 in games played, goals and assists.
Scott Clemmensen (2-0-0) had a good night in goal after an early mistake. His GAA now stands at a microscopic 1.50. Both goaltenders on the active roster started their seasons out with shutouts.
The Panthers will spend the night in San Jose before flying back tomorrow. Their next game is at home, Monday night against the Washington Capitals and expatriate goaltender Tomas Vokoun.