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5 Takeaways: Bobrovsky Sharp Again as Panthers Beat Sharks

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

12/8/19 Post Game Interviews

12/8/19 Post Game Interviews

Interviews with Head Coach Joel Quenneville, forward Jonathan Huberdeau, defenseman Mike Matheson and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

  • 01:00 •

SUNRISE, Fla. - Sergei Bobrovsky couldn't have asked for a better weekend.

Earning his second win in as many nights, the 31-year-old goaltender - fresh off a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday - made 30 saves to help the Florida Panthers sweep their back-to-back with a 5-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks at BB&T Center on Sunday night.

"I felt great there," said Bobrovsky, who improved his record to 11-6-4 on the season. "It was great to come back tonight and compete with my teammates. Physically, you feel a little bit fatigued there, but I thought we stood together at the right time. It's a huge two points for us."

Settling into a nice groove, Bobrovsky stopped a combined 63 of 65 shots over both games.

"He looks like he's very settled into that positioning," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "I liked his composure. He was square to the puck and aware of the rebounds. He was in control all game long. He had a quick couple toe, leg saves… He had a very good weekend for us."

Just as it was during Saturday's win, the Panthers came out of the gate hot tonight.

After Keith Yandle opened the scoring with a power-play goal to make it 1-0 at 4:31 of the first period, Aleksander Barkov doubled the lead to 2-0 just a few minutes later with a goal at 8:15.

At 10:13, Kevin Labanc scored on the power play to cut San Jose's deficit down to 2-1. Over the last four games, Florida has outscored the opposition 5-1 in the first period.

"That's super important in a game," Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson said. "It's so tough to come back in games. It feels like you have more energy when you're up a goal than down one."

Matheson helped that energy carry over into the second period by scoring his first goal of the season with a long shot that slipped past Martin Jones to extend Florida's lead to 3-1 at 6:32.

Jones finished with 28 saves on 32 shots.

In the third period, Brett Connolly made it 4-1 with power-play goal at 10:19 before Frank Vatrano potted an empty-net goal to lock in the 5-1 win with 1:29 remaining in regulation.

Video: SJS@FLA: Vatrano sends puck down ice into empty net

Florida (15-9-5) has won three of its last four games and sits second in the Atlantic Division.

The Sharks, meanwhile, sit at 15-15-2 after losing each of their last four games.

"Back-to-backs are never easy, so it's good [to win]," Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau said. "We got four points this weekend. It's a good win, 5-1. We haven't let in a lot of goals and [Bobrovsky's] done a good job. We've just got to keep doing that when we come back Tuesday."

Here are five takeaways from Sunday's win in Sunrise…

1. TOO MUCH TO YANDLE

For the third straight game, the Panthers struck first.

Working the puck around on the power play early in the first period, Yandle took a pass from Huberdeau and fired a long shot on net from just below the blue line that slipped through traffic and past Jones to break the ice and make it a 1-0 game just 4:31 after the puck had dropped.

Video: SJS@FLA: Yandle fires wrister from blue line for PPG

A point-producing machine on the power play, Yandle leads the Panthers with 15 points on the man advantage this season. Extending his point streak to five games tonight, he also leads the team's blueliners in points (26) and ranks second among the league's defensemen in assists (23).

Over his last 14 games, Yandle has racked up 18 points (two goals, 16 assists).

2. THE PASS AND TAP

Every member of Florida's top line had a hand in this one.

Sent up the ice on an odd-man rush by Huberdeau, Evgenii Dadonov flew into the zone and patiently held onto the puck before dishing a pass through the slot to Barkov, who tapped in a goal from the from the doorstep to increase Florida's lead to 2-0 at 8:15 of the second period.

Video: SJS@FLA: Barkov taps Dadonov's feed in on the rush

With the goal, Barkov also made a move up the record books. The 145th goal of his career, the 24-year-old center is now tied with Stephen Weiss for the fourth-most goals in franchise history.

Also tied with Huberdeau for the team-scoring lead this season with 36 points, Barkov ranks fifth on the Panthers goals (10) and is tied for fifth in the league with a team-leading 26 assists.

3. MATHESON NETS HIS FIRST

Even from up in the press box, you could tell that this one felt good.

Patrolling the blue line with the puck on his stick, Matheson ripped a shot from the point that flew straight down the slot and past Jones - who was blinded by a perfect screen from Connolly -- to earn his first goal of the season and send the Panthers ahead 3-1 6:32 of the second period.

Video: SJS@FLA: Matheson fires shot home from the point

"You start kind of squeezing your stick a little more than usual," Matheson said of hunting for his first goal. "I felt in the last couple games I had a few chances to bury it and didn't quite [do it], so it was nice to get the monkey off my back."

Averaging just under 20 minutes of ice time per game, Matheson has tallied one goal and two assists in 24 games this season. Additionally, the 25-year-old rearguard, who plays an integral role on the team's penalty kill, has also recorded 16 hits, 26 blocked shots and 18 takeaways.

"I'm happy for him," Quenneville said. "I thought he played a strong game as well. Everybody wants to score a goal at some point. I think he'll feel better as he goes along here knowing that he's got one… No matter your position, even if you're a defenseman, it feels good to score."

4 CONNOLLY CONTINUES TO ROLL

Another game, another goal for Connolly.

Posted up in front of the net on the power play, the 27-year-old winger out-muscled a defender before batting home a Mike Hoffman rebound to put Florida up 4-1 at 10:19 of the third period.

Video: SJS@FLA: Connolly cleans up Hoffman's rebound for PPG

His team-leading 14th goal of the season, Connolly has found the back of the net in back-to-back games and has eight goals in his last 10 games overall. He also ranks tied for fifth on the Panthers in scoring with 21 points, including 10 (eight goals, two assists) in his last 11 games.

In the special teams battle, Florida's sixth-ranked power play (24.2 percent) went 2-for-4 against San Jose's top-ranked penalty kill, which entered the night with an 89.9 percent success rate.

"We knew they had a good PK coming in," Huberdeau said. "We worked really hard… We've obviously got to keep working on it, but it's huge to get some power play goals in games."

5. HISTORY FOR HUBERDEAU, HOMESTAND ROLLS ON

Huberdeau took another step towards becoming the Panthers all-time scoring leader tonight.

With two assists against the Sharks, the 26-year-old winger tied and then surpassed Weiss for the second-most points in franchise history, registering the 394th and 395th points of his career.

"It's cool," said Huberdeau, who's tied with Barkov for the team-scoring lead with 36 points. "I didn't even know. It's pretty flattering. I think about the team [first], but it's nice to be second."

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After kicking off their franchise-record, nine-game homestand with six out of a possible eight points in the standings, the Panthers and Huberdeau will look to stay hot heading into a very tough week of games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Islanders and Boston Bruins.

As it stands now, Huberdeau needs 24 points to match Olli Jokinen's franchise record of 419.

"We know we have a tough week coming up," Huberdeau said. "You look at the schedule and there's some division teams, some other tough teams coming in. We've got to be ready for that. We've got to take advantage of being at home before we got on the road for a bit."

The Panthers own a 9-4-2 record at home this season.

For tickets to upcoming home games, please visit FloridaPanthers.com/TicketCentral.

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