San Jose Sharks: 29-12-6 (64 pts) at Florida Panthers: 18-21-7 (43 pts)
There will be some uncommon colors tonight at the BB&T Center as the Florida Panthers take on the San Jose Sharks at 7:30 p.m. ET. It has been almost three years since the last time the Sharks came to South Florida. February 13, 2011 to be exact, a game which the Panthers won 3-2.
The Panthers will have their hands full with the Sharks who have 64 points this season, good for the 5th best record in the NHL. The Sharks are led by veteran center Joe Thorton and his NHL leading 45 assists. In net the Sharks feature Finnish olympian Antti Niemi who has tallied 24 wins this year as well as a .915 Sv% and a 2.35 GAA.
The Panthers have gotten off to a hot start to the month of January as they have put up a 3-1-1 record in five games. Florida has collected 7 out of 10 possible points in the new year. Tonight’s game against the Sharks will be the last of a two game home stand before the Cats are back on the road for the weekend with games against the Hurricanes and then the Penguins and Sabres on back-to-back nights.
On Tuesday the Panthers took care of the New York Islanders 4-2. Florida scored the first four goals of the game including three in the first period. The first period goals were scored by Aleksander Barkov (8), Drew Shore (1) and Nick Bjugstad (10) a trio who’s ages are 18, 21 and 22 respectively.
The Panthers are almost certain to go with Tim Thomas in net tonight as their 39-year-old netminder has been on fire of late. Thomas has allowed just five goals in his last four games stopping 123 of 128 shots for a .960 Sv %.
The Sharks will be a tough test for the Panthers tonight but Florida has fared well against the West this season. The Cats are 7-8-3 against Western Conference teams and they have taken care of some of the best in the West with wins over the Canucks, Avalanche and Ducks while also falling in OT to the Blackhawks.