|@ Panthers (33-18-7)||0||0||1||1||1|
In what was essentially a mirror image of Monday’s game against Pittsburgh, the Panthers found themselves on the losing side of things tonight against the Sharks, who improved to 20-8-2 on the road, despite a solid effort considering the patchwork lineup that’s being iced thanks to an injury bug.
“You look at our lineup, we’re doing the best we can and working hard,” said head coach Gerard Gallant. “I thought the guys played a perfect game for me. San Jose is a good hockey team…I thought we did a good job against them.”
The Panthers and Sharks were gridlocked at 0 for the first 2 periods and it wouldn’t be until 2:23 into the 3rd period that Jaromir Jagr broke the tie with his 18th goal of the season, which tops his total from last year, and was the 740th of his career, putting him one goal behind Brett Hull for 3rd on the all-time scoring list.
The game started off slow for both teams and although there weren’t many chances to come by either way, Vincent Trocheck had 3 glorious chances to give the Panthers the early lead. For the second straight game, Trocheck matched up against the other team’s top-line center; on Monday it was Sidney Crosby and tonight it was Joe Thornton. Despite playing them well, Trocheck was upset that he didn’t convert on any of his opportunities.
“I gotta capitalize on all 3 of those chances that I got, [they] should’ve gone in the net, and that’s on me,” said Trocheck.
Trocheck and the Panthers got the short end of the stick in overtime when he was called for a slashing penalty despite his stick being the one that actually broke.
And it wasn’t the only time the Panthers were wrongly penalized. In the 1st period, Patrick Marleau seemed to throw his head back as though he was hit in the face when Dmitry Kulikov’s stick hit had actually just grazed his chest.
Fortunately, the Panthers were able to kill off the Sharks’ man-advantage both times as well as twice more over the course of the game. The Panthers had just one power play all night, although one of their penalty kills in the 2nd period felt like a power play as they had 3 odd-man breaks.
The Panthers held their 1-0 lead for about 6 minutes until Logan Couture scored on a feed from Joe Thornton to tie the game up just before the halfway point of the 3rd period, a moment that was reminiscent of the Penguins comeback on Monday. Amazingly, the San Jose goal came on their only shot of the 3rd period.
Al Montoya, who made his first consecutive start this season, was strong all night despite the Sharks directing just 18 shots towards him through 65 minutes of play. He has now earned at least a point in 12 of his 16 starts this season with 9 of those being wins, and the improved defense in front of him has been a huge help as well.
“It’s unfortunate we didn’t come away with 2 [points], but it was a 1-0 game the whole way, so a huge point for us, taken and we’re going to move forward,” said Montoya. “I enjoy playing with this team, it’s fun. Whatever it is, I’m gonna work hard and continue to work hard.”
In the shootout, Jonathan Huberdeau went first, and just like he did on Monday, he attempted to out-wait the goaltender, but his shot ricocheted off of the left post.
“That’s crazy, I didn’t know it could happen hitting the same post twice…better change the move I guess, it’s not working,” said Huberdeau.
Joonas Donskoi, a former 4th-round pick of the Panthers at the 2010 Draft, scored on the first attempt of the shootout for the Sharks, but Nick Bjugstad followed it up with a rifle of a shot to tie it up.
That would be all she wrote, however, as Joe Pavelski’s shootout goal would be followed up by a save on Jussi Jokinen by Martin Jones who made 19 saves on 20 Panthers shots. The loss was just the 2nd in 8 total shootouts this year, a big change from last year when they won just 8 of 18 shootouts.
“It was kind of like a playoff game a little bit,” said Huberdeau. “Overall it was a good game…we worked hard and it was a good team on the other side.”
Erik Gudbranson (upper-body injury) missed his 7th consecutive game, Aleksander Barkov (upper-body injury) missed his 5th consecutive game, and Willie Mitchell (upper-body injury) missed his 16th consecutive game on Thursday against the Sharks. Gudbranson and Barkov are questionable for Saturday’s game against Winnipeg and are more likely to return next Thursday against the Coyotes. Brandon Pirri (ankle) and Quinton Howden (upper-body injury) also missed their 2nd straight game after sustaining injuries on Saturday against Nashville. Pirri is expected to miss at least 2 more weeks before returning.