Florida Panthers Hold on to Defeat San Jose, 5-3

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 14: Frank Vatrano #72 of the Florida Panthers is congratulated by teammates after he scored a goal on Martin Jones #31 of the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on March 14, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 14: Frank Vatrano #72 of the Florida Panthers is congratulated by teammates after he scored a goal on Martin Jones #31 of the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on March 14, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

With their playoff hopes starting to dwindle, the Florida Panthers were entering their western road trip with desperation, looking to find a crucial win.

The Florida Panthers started with their lines in a blender early on, looking to throw-off former head coach Bob Boughner. The Cats started with a level of hunger that we haven’t seen in recent games, even being rewarded for it early on.

As Frank Vatrano skated out wide in the Sharks territory, he centered a pass over to an open Evgenii Dadonov, who put home his rebound in uncomfortable fashion as he proceeded to take a stick to the face. Dadonov ultimately paid the price to score, but it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Characteristically, the Panthers resorted back to their same old tactics of letting their foot off the pedal the minute they scored. Keith Yandle took an ill-advised interference penalty, sending the Sharks to the first power play of the game.

The Sharks were unable to capitalize on their opportunity, but Yandle’s penalty certainly gave the home side the momentum moving forward, as Sergei Bobrovsky was being tested more frequently.

It was only a matter of time until the Sharks scored and they did, courtesy of Dylan Gambrell, who wristed a shot over Bobrovsky in the slot to tie the game at one.

Florida slowly started to find their feet again and was awarded their first power play after Aleksander Barkov beautifully drew up a penalty. Their second PP unit, in particular, created some good chances and held good zone time, but were unable to hit the net on any of their chances.

They also drew another penalty after Yandle was tripped, but that chance didn’t last long as Vincent Trocheck wound up taking an interference penalty, eliminating the Panthers’ man advantage. Both teams would head straight down the locker room tied at one after twenty minutes of play.

In the second, after Trocheck’s penalty was killed off, the Panthers returned to the man advantage for their third time of the afternoon. They created some good looks and chances out of the opportunity but couldn’t capitalize and shot wide of the mark on every attempt.

They particularly came close to taking the lead through this play. Beautifully drawn up and executed to the point where they were close to the goal, but Dadonov fired wide of Aaron Dell’s cage.

Barkov came even closer to regaining the Panthers’ lead after effortlessly walking into San Jose territory, pulling off an unbelievable move to get towards the goal but ended up shooting wide.

It seemed as if the Panthers were never going to score again, considering all the missed chances they racked up. But this time, Mike Hoffman took advantage of his chance, sliding the puck through Dell’s wickets on a breakaway to put the Cats up by one.

From there, the Panthers received power play No. 4 after Aaron Eklad was taken down near the side of the boards. But like the other three chances, the Panthers couldn’t bury one to extend their narrow lead.

San Jose had an opportunity to level the game with a power play of their own before the second period expired but the Panthers’ PK unit did an outstanding job of cutting it off. After two periods of play, the Panthers were in the driver’s seat by one.

To start the third, Jonathan Huberdeau received a hit up high, laying on the ice in pain as the play continued. The refs immediately blew the whistle as soon as they saw him down on the ice, but no call was made on the play.

Moments later, the Panthers found their first two-goal cushion of the game through Colton Sceviour, who followed his rebound and potted it home to give the Cats some breathing room.

Unfortunately, that cushion didn’t last after Denis Malgin took an unnecessary penalty, which led to Kevin Labanc cutting the deficit down to one (3-2).

Florida eventually responded in perfect style when Huberdeau beautifully fed an open Anton Stralman the puck – as he walked in unmarked – sniping a wrister home to put the Panthers up by two once again.

Yet again, though, the Cats made life difficult for themselves as they conceded shortly after Stralman’s goal. This time, Timo Meier beat Bobrovsky short-side – a shot he knows he should’ve had and would’ve loved to have back.

As the Panthers entered crunch time in the final few minutes up by a lone goal, San Jose pulled their goalie with hopes of sending the game to overtime with an extra skater on the ice. The Panthers had other plans and kept full possession of the puck with an empty net to shoot at. Trocheck glided his way to center ice, wristing a shot towards the empty cage that would find its way in the back of the goal. The Cats would hang on to win by a score of 5-3, ending their two-game losing skid.

Overall, it wasn’t one of their prettier games but for a team that has been desperate over the last week of play, a win was needed to save their season and improve their standing. Here’s hoping that this win will translate throughout the rest of their road trip and into the coming fixtures.

Next. Florida's Failures Might Now Finally Fall at Feet of Dale Tallon. dark

Your Panthers are back in action on Wednesday, February. 19 @ 10 P.M. against the Anaheim Ducks, looking to make it two in a row!