Panthers top Sharks

The Florida Panthers finally halted a five-game slide Sunday evening with a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks in beautiful Sunrise, Florida.

Jason Garrison was the hero of the game as he blasted a shot from the point which beat Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi stick side to break a 2-2 tie with 2:01 remaining in the game. Luckily enough it was Garrison’s third shot from the point on the shift, as Florida had the puck in the Sharks zone for almost a minute.

“First shot got through, I think it hit him in the chest or something, the next one was tipped wide and the third one got in,” Garrison said. “You just want to maintain pressure and you want to get loose pucks and get pucks on net, especially when they’re out there for over a minute. You just want to funnel pucks to the net and crash to the net and that’s kind of what happened.”

San Jose got things going in the first, as Kent Huskins beat Tomas Vokoun at 12:57 of the first period, a lead which the Sharks would take into the dressing room, and would hold onto for most of the second period.

Mike Santorelli tied the game up late in the second, as he beat Niemi with 00:29 seconds remaining in the period for his 15th of the season. Santorelli tried a wrist shot, which was stopped by Niemi, but then picked up his own rebound and attempted a pass from behind the net which hit off Niemi’s skate and went in. Cory Stillman had an assist on the play, as he returned to the Panthers lineup after missing the last two games with an upper-body injury which he sustained in practice.

Joe Pavelski would then put the sharks ahead as he took a pass from Dany Heatley and bet Vokoun for his 12th goal of the season at 2:02 of the third period. The Panthers would once again tie the game up as Chris Higgins scored his 10th goal of the season half way through the period for a 2 all game, before Garrison would eventually score the winner late in the game.

“It was a good win for us,” Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said. “Hopefully it builds some confidence. We’re a young team and we’re a little fragile at points. This hopefully will be a big boost for us to let us know that we can win games like this.

It was the Panthers’ 15th one-goal game in their last 16, but only the sixth time (6-4-5) they came away as the winner.

Vokoun’s record improved to 19-18-4 on the season while Niemi’s fell to 17-15-3 with the loss.

San Jose will now travel to Nashville where they will play the Predators on Tuesday, while the Panthers await the arrival of the Philadelphia Flyers for a must win game on Wednesday night.

Adam Reid


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