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Sharks 4, Panthers 5 (OT): Sharks play to conserve lead, end up blowing it

Mario Ferraro sacrificed his teeth for this?

Sam Bennett #9 of the Florida Panthers scores the game winning goal in overtime against Goaltender James Reimer #47 of the San Jose Sharks at the FLA Live Arena on January 29, 2022 in Sunrise, Florida. Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

While many likely saw this as a scheduled loss, the San Jose Sharks actually looked like they were trending toward being a team who could hang with the league’s best early in this game.

Sure, they weren’t playing a perfect game, and the Florida Panthers were keeping gameplay largely in the Sharks’ defensive zone, but San Jose were making good on their limited chances, and notched two power play goals, courtesy of Calder candidate Jonathan Dahlen.

But early in the first period, Mario Ferraro did one of the many things he does so well — blocked a shot — unfortunately using his mouth. He left the ice and did not return to the game. Sharks fans are all too familiar with puck-to-the-mouth injuries, it almost feels like a rite of passage at this point.

The shorthanded defense saw Brent Burns topping out at 33:48 minutes of play time, as the Sharks surprisingly came out to a lead through two periods. Heading into the third period up 3-1, all San Jose had to do was protect the lead and keep Florida out of the offensive zone.

It was too much to ask of a tired defense. San Jose started playing much more conservatively, allowing Florida as much time as they wanted not only in the offensive zone, but parked right in front of the crease. Regulation ended in a 4-4 tie, but the loss was written on the way and after a minute of dominating the offensive zone, Jonathan Huberdeau teamed up with Sam Bennett to win it.

The blueline is thin enough as it is, so it’s more complicated than simply being a matter of the defense hinging on a single player, but I can’t deny that it’s frustrating to watch two period of solid strategy fall apart in a single period and know that there’s little else they could’ve done. Playing conservatively in the third was the most questionable decision, as it hadn’t been what made the first two period successful and the Panthers weren’t going to go away.

Embarrassing of the Sharks to blow it, but I don’t know why I expected anything different.

Comment of the Game

This reply resulted in a spit-take:

Poor Mario Ferraro sacrificed his teeth tonight, just for the Sharks to blow a lead and scrape by with a loser point. And now he’s slowly morphing into Brent Burns. Someone save him.


Hey y’all, hope you’re all enjoying your Saturday afternoon. Let’s settle in and watch some Sharks hockey, featuring Joe Thornton in an ugly jersey.

First Period

19:48: Literally that quickly, the Panthers have a breakaway chance. Ryan Lomberg and the fourth line putting in work.

19:09: Brent Burns and Lomberg heading to the box. Burns called for hooking, while Lomberg gets embellishment. Probably not a great call, but I guess the spinning he did on the ice after going down was considered too fancy. 4-on-4 for a bit.

18:32: Panthers dominating the first ~40 seconds of 4-on-4.

18:12: Nick Bonino finally gets the puck out, Matt Nieto carries it into the zone for a pass to Radim Simek, who takes the shot. Play quickly moves back in the other direction.

17:09: Penalties expire.

15:40: Noah Gregor with speed makes an opportunity for himself. The shot is saved, but that’s the kind of neutral zone play that Sharks need more of.

14:34: Mario Ferraro heading to the locker room after blocking a shot with his face.

14:06: The Panthers are just suffocating in the defensive zone and the Sharks’ D are content to let them do whatever.

13:50: Tomas Hertl gets the Sharks on the board first! Rudolfs Balcers along the boards, backhand passes to Hertl who gets right up on Sergei Bobrovsky to lift the puck into the net. 1-0, Sharks.

11:08: The Panthers’ depth is just unreal. The fourth line is better than a lot of teams’ third lines.

9:37: Gregor is getting bodied off the puck too easily. He’s got to be more aggressive physically and power through those checks.

8:45: Florida at 5-on-5 cycle the puck like they’re on a power play. Insanely good hockey.

7:45: Florida with good pressure but extremely bad luck on that last shift.

6:22: The Panthers are laying on shot attempts, one of these has got to break through.

5:35: Sharks finally get back in the offensive zone and test Bobrovsky.

4:23: Shots are 14-10 in favor of the Sharks, which is surprising, but they were able to sneak in a few chances in quick succession.

4:08: Anthony Duclair called for interference. Sharks are going to a power play, probably wishing they could just decline it at this point.

3:40: Thirty second into the power play, Florida was rushing into the offensive zone. Eventually got forced back to the neutral zone, but they aren’t screwing around when they can capitalize on a turnover.

2:43: Jonathan Dahlen! Radko Gudas had lost his stick, loads of traffic in front of the net and Dahlen in the slot, shot the puck and it weaved through a mess of bodies to get to the back of the net. 2-0, Sharks.

1:55: MacKenzie Weegar with a slapper from the blueline. Duclair tries with the rebound, but no dice.

0:53.3: There it is. Sam Reinhart behind the net gets the puck out front to Gustav Forsling, who beats Reimer. 2-1, Sharks still leading.

0:09.3: Shot from the right circle by Aaron Ekblad, really great patience from the defender there and Reimer has had to be solid.

END FIRST: Sharks 2, Panthers 1

Second Period

Per Sharks PR, Mario Ferraro is not returning tonight. Cool and fun and definitely nothing to worry about!

18:29: A quick tic-tac-toe play and a one-timer in the slot from Matt Nieto goes in. 3-1, Sharks.

17:45: Jaycob Megna called for tripping, Sharks to the penalty kill. Florida’s power play isn’t the strongest part of their game, but they have big guns and San Jose is without two defenders.

16:27: Nick Bonino on the penalty kill is what everyone spent years trying to convince me Melker Karlsson was on the penalty kill.

15:45: Penalty killed!

15:02: Hertl throwing his body around, we simply love to see it.

14:16: It’s been back-and-forth zone entries since the penalty expired. Sharks are better at taking quick chances, Panthers are better at setting up plays.

13:30: Reimer is just so, so good. Cannot explain the depths of my Martin Jones related trauma conditioning. It’s just nice to have a goaltender who regularly stands on his head.

11:23: Bonino with an admittedly sad wrap-around attempt. Nine times out of ten, that’s not going in on an NHL goaltender. At least he tried.

10:20: Shots sitting at 28-23, Panthers leading. Again, that’s a gap I’d expect to be bigger, because the Sharks aren’t getting as many of the second and third chances.

9:33: Reimer almost knocked the net off sealing the gap between himself and the post making a save on Lomberg.

9:03: Balcers was so close to having a breakaway goal. The puck definitely went behind Bobrovsky, but was scooped up by a Panthers skaters when it didn’t cross the line. Massive stop there. That could’ve been a huge momentum shift.

And again, play quickly moves to the other end of the ice.

6:41: Sharks cannot get significant offensive zone time. They’re playing back on their heels and that will be exhausting for the next 25 minutes.

4:44: Sharks have only had one shot on goal in the last five minutes.

3:33: Okay, here we go, a little bit of zone time. Meier, Dahlen and Couture with a good shift after the offensive zone faceoff.

2:30: Can the Sharks give their extra cap space to Reimer? He deserves it. Give him double the Erik Karlsson contract, in my opinion.

1:04: Sharks finally break up Florida’s control of the puck, but can’t break into the offensive zone and a line change sends play back the other way again.

0:28.2: Carter Verhaeghe blocked, Aaron Ekblad with the rebound that is also stopped, right off the faceoff to Reimer’s right.

Shots 35-26, Panthers leading, to end the period.

END SECOND: Sharks 3, Panthers 1

Third Period

19:31: Reinhart just took a puck to the throat, the Sharks are leading after two ... feeling like my preview was touched with the gift of prophecy.

19:05: Oh my god, the Panthers just threw everything at Reimer. Weegar missed an open net as the puck bounced off of Reimer’s stick, laying on the ice in front of him. Incredibly bad luck for Florida there.

18:34: Don’t get too excited, folks, Aleksander Barkov in the slot with an assist from Jonathan Huberdeau put the Panthers within one. 3-2, Sharks.

17:42: Sharks keep icing the puck and this chip and chase start to the third is going to lose them the game.

16:51: Great shift from San Jose’s second line, and they draw a penalty. Brandon Montour called for hooking.

15:10: Jonathan Dahlen, you beautiful, beautiful boy. Ten seconds left on the power play and he beats Bobrovsky far side from the right circle. 4-2, Sharks.

14:29: Jesus, the Panthers get one back quick. They just kept on Reimer, who made save after save. Carter Verhaeghe gets the tally.

Bob Boughner is challenging for offsides.

It looks like Huberdeau is fully offside. That one is getting called back. Really lucky for the Sharks because Florida has come out swinging this period, and a goal was going to come eventually. There’s still too much hockey to be played.

12:30: Once again, the Panthers power through in the crease, and Marchment gets another one, poking the puck through Reimer’s legs. 4-3, Sharks.

10:22: Verhaeghe draws Reimer to the side, Huberdeau comes in with a quick shot on the open side and now it’s a tied game, 4-4.

7:45: The Couture, Dahlen and Meier line is carrying the Sharks right now.

6:13: Gregor with a breakaway, Bobrovsky with a save, Sharks with another chance from Burns and Bonino, he makes the save again.

5:09: Verhaeghe and Weegar just laid out Couture along the boards.

4:02: Shots are 46-34 in favor of Florida. If it weren’t against the Panthers, this would actually be a pretty decent offensive night for the Sharks.

2:11: San Jose isn’t even trying in the neutral zone.

1:05: Being forced to play back and icing the puck every time has forced them into a situation where they desperately need a line change and can’t get out of the defensive zone. Joke.

Sharks playing for overtime at this point. Absolutely ridiculous third period strategy from the jump.

END THIRD: Sharks 4, Panthers 4

Overtime

3:52: After dominating possession for the first minute of overtime, Sam Bennett nets the winner. Forsling from the outside circle sends the puck to Huberdeau behind the net. he passes to Bennett up close in the crease, who sends in the one-timer.

FINAL SCORE: Sharks 4, Panthers 5 (OT)


Pregame

The San Jose Sharks open a weekend of back-to-back afternoon games today against the league-leading Florida Panthers. Today’s game marks the first time Joe Thornton will be playing against the Sharks since 2003. It’s fine, I’m totally fine, but maybe keep the tissues handy anyway? I just miss him.

Read about the questions and concerns ahead of today’s game in our game preview here.

Here’s everything you need to know to tune in:

Lines

SAN JOSE SHARKS

Alexander Barabanov — Tomas Hertl — Rudolfs Balcers
Jonathan Dahlen — Logan Couture — Timo Meier
Matt Nieto — Nick Bonino — Noah Gregor
Andrew Cogliano — Jasper Weatherby — Jeffrey Viel

Mario Ferraro — Brent Burns
Jaycob Megna — Nicolas Meloche
Marc-Edouard Vlasic — Radim Simek

James Reimer
Zach Sawchenko

Expected Scratches: Lane Pederson, Ryan Merkley, Adam Raska, Jonah Gadjovich

Injured Reserve: Erik Karlsson (upper body), Jacob Middleton (upper body), Kevin Labanc (upper body), Adin Hill (lower body)

FLORIDA PANTHERS

Carter Verhaeghe — Aleksander Barkov — Owen Tippett
Jonathan Huberdeau — Sam Bennett — Anthony Duclair
Mason Marchment — Anton Lundell — Sam Reinhart
Eetu Luostarinen — Joe Thornton — Ryan Lomberg

MacKenzie Weegar — Aaron Ekblad
Gustav Forsling — Radko Gudas
Lucas Carlsson — Brandon Montour

Sergei Bobrovsky
Jonas Johansson

Expected Scratches: Frank Vatrano

Injured Reserve: Patric Hornqvist (upper body), Olli Juolevi (undisclosed), Maxim Mamin (undisclosed)

How to Watch

Tonight’s game will be broadcast regionally on NBCSCA and BSFL. Streaming is available with a subscription to ESPN+ (blackout restrictions do apply). The radio call will be streamed through the Sharks Audio Network. Puck drop is at 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, FL.