Panthers 3, Sharks 2 (OT): Florida’s jumbo depth wears down scrappy San Jose squad

The San Jose Sharks have found a recipe for success and it seems to involve playing as much of the game on special teams as possible.

Despite the massive challenge that the Florida Panthers presented tonight — not to mention the emotions that were riding high after a tribute video for Sharks legend Joe Thornton — San Jose kept this game extremely winnable, catching an early lead, and responding quickly to restore it after Florida tied things up.

The team’s special team play has been a bright spot as of late, and tonight was no different, undoubtably fueled by Erik Karlsson, who has been on a tear since returning from surgery on his arm. Much of the second period was spent at any state other than 5-on-5, keeping Florida from building momentum in the way of a comeback performance.

That all changed in the third period, when the Panthers came out with fresh legs and a dominate performance. They quickly tied the game once again, and even pulled ahead momentarily, until Mason Marchment (son of former Sharks defenseman and current scout/defense development coach, Bryan Marchment) had his goal called back for goaltender interference. Florida pressed on and their depth easily outclassed the Sharks, who began to look worn down.

Still, with a guaranteed point on the line, things slowed down in the back-half of the third period and the game headed to overtime, where Frank Vatrano took very little time to settle the game with his second goal of the night.

Though continuing to get points while unlikely to make playoffs spells out doom for a draft position, a dearth of talent is not the only problem the Sharks are facing. Perhaps a little winning down the line will be good to repair a culture in a locker room that has seen its share of turnover — including losing Joe Thornton two years ago.

Comment of the Game

It’s a little mean, but it’s also funny. Would’ve been a beautiful send-off for Jumbo if this is his last season.

But I mean, we’ve heard that every summer since, what, 2016? He’s got a few more years in him.

First Period

Hey folks, who else is ready to cry? It’s me, definitely me. I just miss Joe Thornton so much.

19:37: Oh, the ESPN+ graphics are so nice. Loving this scorebug.

19:02: Thornton’s line dominates the first shift, who would’ve thought?

18:06: I didn’t even realize James Reimer was back, I was so focused on Joe Thornton. Glad to see the starter healthy against a top team.

17:18: I’m really glad Scott Reedy is getting a shot because he’s making the most of it. I’ll admit, I thought he was going to flame out, but he’s got hustle.

15:33: Nicolas Meloche just banked the puck off the glass and that had to make the folk in the front row scared.

15:17: Anthony Duclair with a great scoring chance that Reimer stops.

14:50: Damn, Duclair immediately embarrassed by the Sharks’ fourth line getting several chances the other way.

12:50: Radko Gudas called for hooking on Alexander Barabanov and the Sharks will get a shot at the power play. Honestly, I keep forgetting the Gudas is still in the league.

11:41: Gustav Forsling blocked a shot from Erik Karlsson and isn’t able to put weight on his leg. It’s an unfortunate injury, but it effectively gets a 5-on-3 going, and Logan Couture tips in a shot from Tomas Hertl. 1-0, Sharks.

9:40: Aleksander Barkov hits Jonathan Dahlen with a high-stick and the Sharks are back to the skater-advantage.

8:29: Brent Burns defending on a shorthanded 2-on-1 is not ideal. Jonathan Huberdeau beats Reimer and it’s tied 1-1.

7:40: Second unit lacking a bit of puck control, and the penalty expires.

6:49: Panthers dominating after things go back to 5-on-5.

6:02: Holy smokes, Meloche! What an incredible wrist shot from above the right circle. Totally clear path to the net, chucks one at Spencer Knight and it goes straight in. 2-1, Sharks.

4:21: Forsling is back out there, good to see.

3:42: Florida putting on a clinic in the offensive zone for the last shift.

2:09: Sharks leading shots 11-7. Erik Karlsson with a great shift. His effect on possession is unreal.

0:17: Timo Meier just took a bad hit in the corner, but seemed to get back to the bench just fine. Might be something to watch.

END FIRST: Sharks 2, Panthers 1

Second Period

18:44: When fully healthy, this team isn’t as bad as they’ve been on the whole this season. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of issues, but both Karlsson and Balcers have been players the team has missed.

16:23: Shots evening up, 11-10. Still, the Panthers aren’t getting a lot of time or space in the offensive zone.

15:42: Forsling has been in and out of the game. If he’s questionable, he shouldn’t be playing, in my opinion.

(apologies, my stream has been cutting out for unknown reasons)

13:41: Patric Hornqvist draws a penalty from Jonah Gadjovich, baiting him into a roughing call and the Sharks are penalty killing.

12:03: Hertl with a quick shorthanded chance. He crashes the net, but the Panthers collected the rebound, so play goes on.

11:41: Back to full-strength.

11:06: Just about halfway, shots are 14-12, Panthers.

10:55: Reimer with the save of the night on San Jose native Mason Marchment. Meloche and Marchment get into it behind the net and both are sent off for roughing. Let’s see some 4-on-4. Open up the ice, baby.

9:03: Sam Bennett gets a delayed call for holding.

8:49: Play stops. Sharks will get a brief 4-on-3, then 5-on-4.

8:07: Knight with a big save on Hertl.

7:10: Terrible luck for the Panthers, MacKenzie Weegar called for puck over glass. Sharks get a 5-on-3.

5:09: Power play expires, but man, what an effort! The Panthers had a huge kill there.

4:46: Huberdeau and Barabanov exchange some pushing and shoving, both are getting sent off. Back to 4-on-4.

4:12: Andrew Cogliano came up through the neutral zone and set up Karlsson for a one-timer, but Knight makes a stick save.

2:23: Shots are 22-16, Sharks leading.

0:56: Once again, Karlsson with a beautiful chance, Knight makes the stop.

0:33: Weegar back to the box. It’s apparently a bench misconduct against Florida. San Jose will take the advantage.

0:06: Oh man, couple of chances that were so close. Carry that energy into the third, fellas.

END SECOND: Sharks 2, Panthers 1

Third Period

19:59: Sharks will start with just under a minute and a half of power play time.

19:26: Huberdeau with another shorthanded chance, Reimer makes the stop.

18:10: Panthers come at Reimer hard, he makes a series of saves.

17:43: Sharks finally get it out of the defensive zone and the Panthers bring it right back in. San Jose is starting to look gassed.

16:31: A one-timer from Frank Vatrano in the slot beats Reimer. It’s tied again, 2-2.

15:06: Meier gets a breakaway, Knight comes out to get a piece of the puck and sent it wide.

14:23: Gudas just laid out Barabanov in the neutral zone.

13:51: Say whatever you want about this game, but Reimer nearly fumbled a glove save on Gudas and at least we aren’t living in the universe where that went in.

11:20: Meier sets up Karlsson on the rush, but got too deep in the zone and took a bad-angle shot. Panthers have been putting everything they have on Reimer.

11:08: And there it is. San Jose nepotism baby Mason Marchment scores to give the Panthers their first lead.

Sharks are challenging for goaltender interference, but there was a lot going on in the crease, could go either way.

Successful challenge, goal is called back.

8:49: Feeling the urgency to end this in regulation dying off on both sides, but the Panthers are clearly edging San Jose out in the attempt to close it out.

8:23: Cogliano called for tripping Eetu Luostarinen, Sharks are going to the kill for a non-roughing call.

7:03: Panthers get unlucky again, with the buck bouncing off the post, nearly beating Reimer.

Sharks do well breaking up plays, but it isn’t until there are 21 seconds left in the power play that they get a clear. That’s exhausting.

6:12: Shots are 14-3 in the period, Florida leading. Jesus. San Jose is hanging on for the loser point.

4:48: Dahlen sets up Couture in front of the crease and he fans on it, play goes back the other way.

Sharks get a turnover of their own and are back in the offensive zone.

1:06: I missed who it was, but a Sharks player just got full-on tumbled head-over-heels near the blueline on the bench side. Dangerous play there.

0:25: Nieto lost an edge in a (already weak) breakaway bid.

Just like the last time these teams met, this one is going to overtime.

END REGULATION: Sharks 2, Panthers 2


Sharks sending out Couture, Meier and Karlsson. Florida counters with Huberdeau, Barkov and Ekblad.

4:06: Barabanov, Burns and Hertl out now.

3:53: Bennett with a shot covered by Reimer. Duclair and Weegar also out for Florida now.

3:49: Vatrano with a one-timer off the face-off goes in. That’s it, folks.

END OVERTIME: Sharks 2, Panthers 3

Jumbo Joe Thornton is back in town with his Florida Panthers, so get ready for maximum sadness regardless of the results tonight. The San Jose Sharks are feeling themselves right now after a couple of successful bouts against the Los Angeles Kings, but the Panthers are among the East’s Cup-favorites, sitting second in the conference and third overall in the league. To say it’s a losing battle feels like an understatement.

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



Alexander Barabanov — Tomas Hertl — John Leonard
Jonathan Dahlen — Logan Couture — Timo Meier
Rudolfs Balcers — Nick Bonino — Matt Nieto
Andrew Cogliano — Scott Reedy — Jonah Gadjovich

Jacob Middleton — Brent Burns
Erik Karlsson — Jaycob Megna
Marc-Edouard Vlasic — Nicolas Meloche

James Reimer
Zach Sawchenko

Expected Scratches: Ryan Merkley, Noah Gregor, Jeffrey Viel

Injured Reserve: Radim Simek (undisclosed), Mario Ferraro (lower body), Kevin Labanc (upper body), Adin Hill (lower body)


Joe Thornton — Aleksander Barkov — Carter Verhaeghe
Jonathan Huberdeau — Sam Bennett — Sam Reinhart
Mason Marchment — Eetu Luostarinen — Anthony Duclair
Frank Vatrano — Noel Acciari — Patric Hornqvist

MacKenzie Weegar — Aaron Ekblad
Gustav Forsling — Radko Gudas
Petteri Lindbohm — Brandon Montour

Sergei Bobrovsky
Spencer Knight

Expected Scratches: Lucas Carlsson, Maxim Mamin

Injured Reserve: Markus Nutivaara (lower body), (undisclosed), Ryan Lomberg (undisclosed), Anton Lundell (lower body)

How to Watch

Tonight’s game will be broadcast exclusively through streaming services ESPN+ and Hulu, with a required subscription. The radio call will be streamed through the Sharks Audio Network. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET at SAP Center in San Jose, California.