Sunrise, FL (SportsNetwork.com) – Jimmy Hayes and Aleksander Barkov recorded
first-period goals that propelled the Florida Panthers to a 4-1 victory over
the San Jose Sharks at BB&T Center.
Derek MacKenzie and Tomas Fleischmann scored later on to support a 21-save
effort from Roberto Luongo that helped the Panthers halt an 0-2-1 stretch.
Joe Thornton accounted for San Jose’s lone goal during the third period and
Antti Niemi finished with 26 saves for the Sharks, who fell to 1-2-0 on their
current seven-game road swing.
The Panthers got off to an unusually fast start, potting a pair of goals
within an 82-second span in the opening period to build an early lead they
Vincent Trocheck set up the first score by winning a battle for puck and
sending a centering pass that Jussi Jokinen tipped to Hayes, who lifted a shot
over Niemi’s glove with 9:04 remaining in the frame.
Barkov one-timed home a behind-the-net give from Scottie Upshall shortly
afterward to put the Sharks, who mustered a mere five shots in the first
period, further behind.
Florida had scored only four first-period goals through its first 12 games.
It was 3-0 just 6:37 into the second, when an uncovered MacKenzie put in a
rebound of Aaron Ekblad’s drive that was blocked in front of the San Jose net.
Fleischmann put an end to a personal scoring drought with 3:01 elapsed in the
third period to increase the lead further. Stationed in close on Niemi, the
forward tapped in Shawn Thornton’s drop pass for his first goal of the season.
Joe Thornton spoiled Luongo’s bid for his second shutout of the season by
crashing the net and backhanding the carom of Brent Burns’ long drive from the
blue line with 9:25 left to play.
Florida has put up eight goals in its last two games after scoring two or less
in 10 of its first 11 outings of the season … The Panthers have now won six
of the last seven meetings between the teams … Fleischmann had gone 15
straight games without a goal dating back to last season … Panthers
defenseman Dmitry Kulikov sat out with a sprained left knee sustained during
Saturday’s loss to Calgary … Joe Thornton has 29 points (10 goals, 19
assists) in 34 career games against the Panthers.