Halloween night for the San Jose Sharks was full of treats.
Christian Ehrhoff’s goal with 35 seconds remaining in regulation handed the Sharks a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers. The win gave San Jose a winning record (3-2) on their five-game road trip. The victory was San Jose’s ninth in 13 games, tying them with Anaheim, Dallas and Minnesota for the most wins in the Western Conference.
for video highlights from tonight's nationally televised game.
The Sharks now have 18 points, tying them for second place in the Pacific Division with Dallas. Both teams trail division-leading Anaheim by three points.
Early in the first period, the teams exchanged penalties. At 5:51, Florida was called for too many men on the ice. Towards the end of the Sharks power play, Ehrhoff was whistled for tripping at 7:17. The Panthers had a brief power play after a 4-on-4, but couldn’t score.
The penalties were the lone score sheet highlights of the first period. For only the second time in 13 games, San Jose didn’t score a goal in the opening period. Although the Panthers outshot the Sharks, 12-10, neither team scored in the first 20 minutes. Marcel Goc, Jonathan Cheechoo and Mike Grier each had two shots to lead San Jose.
Florida scored the first goal of the game at 6:06 of the second period. Mike Van Ryn headmanned a pass from deep in the Panthers zone to ex-Sharks left wing Ville Peltonen near the San Jose blueline. Peltonen was checked off the puck when he brought it into the Sharks end, but Nathan Horton got the puck in between the faceoff circles and dished a pass to Olli Jokinen in the right faceoff circle. Jokinen proceeded to put a shot over Vesa Toskala’s left shoulder to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
Shortly after Jokinen’s fifth goal of the season, Milan Michalek was called for holding the stick at 6:39. But the Panthers couldn’t convert.
The Sharks got a chance at 11:30 when Joel Kwiatkowski was called for hooking. But for the second time of the night, San Jose couldn’t take advantage. More excitement ensued at 14:51 when Ryane Clowe
and ex-Calgary Flame Steve Montador each received five-minute majors for fighting. The fight started when Montador was checked by Clowe after Montador dumped the puck into the San Jose zone.
In the last minute of the second period, San Jose kept the puck in the Florida zone and forced a penalty as Van Ryn was called for hooking at 19:25.
The second period ended with Florida having a 1-0 lead. The Panthers outshot the Sharks, 5-4, in the middle 20 minutes.
San Jose started the third period reuniting Mark Bell with Joe Thornton
and Cheechoo on a line for the power play. While San Jose didn’t convert, they did score shortly after Van Ryn’s penalty expired.
Thornton carried the puck past the Florida blue line, skated towards the center of the Panthers zone and through a two-man Panthers screen, fired a wrister from between the tops of the circles that went past Panthers goaltender Alex Auld to tie the score, 1-1, at 1:31. For Thornton, the goal was his second of the season and in as many games. Ehrhoff was credited with the lone assist.
San Jose started to see momentum swing their way after Thornton’s goal. At 7:07, Rotislav Olesz was called for interference to give the Sharks their fourth power play opportunity, but the Panthers killed the penalty.
San Jose got their big chance with 42 seconds remaining in regulation. As Thornton was carrying the puck into the Panthers zone, Martin Gelinas hooked Thornton to the ice.
That’s when the NHL’s top power play unit went to work. The fifth opportunity of the night would bring home the game winner.
At 19:25, the Sharks took the faceoff in the Florida end. Thornton won the draw and passed the puck to Cheechoo on his left by the side boards. Cheechoo dished the puck to Matt Carle on the left point. Carle passed the puck to Ehrhoff on the right point. Ehrhoff’s slapshot deflected off Horton and past Auld for his fourth goal of the season, and most importantly for San Jose, the game-winner.
San Jose outshot Florida, 28-25, in the game and 14-8 in the final period.
STARTING LINE COMBINATIONS
Michalek – Thornton – Cheechoo
Bell – Marleau – Bernier
Clowe – Goc - Grier
Smith – Brown – Rissmiller
Carle – McLaren
Vlasic – Hannan
Murray – Ehrhoff
Ehrhoff’s goal was his first game-winner of the season. His two-point night (goal and an assist) earned him the game’s No. 1 star. Thornton received the No. 3 star while Jokinen was No. 2…After the first 13 games last year, San Jose was 7-5-1…For the second straight game, Coach Ron Wilson started Michalek on the left wing with the top line of Thornton and Cheechoo. But in the third period, Bell was reunited with his linemates…Defensemen Rob Davison and Josh Gorges were healthy scratches for San Jose…Sharks fans got a chance to see Peltonen skating for the Panthers. Peltonen, who played for the Sharks from 1995-97, was with Nashville for three seasons (1998-01) after leaving San Jose. Tuesday’s game was his fourth with Florida...Speaking of former Sharks, San Jose’s first head coach, George Kingston, is now an assistant with the Panthers…Tuesday's contest was the first of six Sharks games being televised nationally by Versus (formerly OLN). The next Sharks game on Versus will be Nov. 29 at Minnesota.
San Jose returns for a three-game homestand Thursday night starting with a game against the Rangers at 7:30 p.m. The game will be televised on FSN Bay Area and can be heard on the Sharks Radio Network.