SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Florida Panthers showed the San Jose Sharks what it’s like to be on the wrong side of a third-period comeback.
Bryan Allen scored 2:46 into overtime to help the Panthers rally from an early two-goal deficit to beat the Sharks 3-2 on Saturday for their first win in San Jose in 10 years.
The Panthers fell behind 2-0 in the first period before gathering themselves in time to get a big win against one of the top teams in the league.
“The first period, it looked like men with boys,” Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. “Then we found our legs and got our game going and thought we did a good job coming back against arguably the best team in the league.”
After becoming the first team in NHL history to win three straight games in regulation when trailing after two periods, the Sharks found themselves on the other side of a late comeback.
Shawn Matthias scored the equalizer off a spin move about five minutes into the third period and then set up the game-winner in overtime for Florida. Matthias beat Joe Pavelski on a face off and then went to the front of the net to set a screen for Allen, whose shot from the point beat Thomas Greiss.
“We decided after the first – let’s win the next one and we’d be right back into it,” Matthias said. “We did that and just kept with the game plan. We know we’re playing desperate hockey right now. We’re still trying to make the playoffs. Everybody was giving it their all.”
That gave the Panthers their fourth win in five games as they make a push for the playoffs. Florida entered the day eight points behind Boston for the final playoff spot in the East.
The Sharks still gained a point and moved three points ahead of Chicago for the best record in the Western Conference. They trail Washington by three points for the best mark in the league. San Jose starts a six-game road trip Sunday in Anaheim.
San Jose overcame one-goal deficits in the third period to beat Montreal and Columbus last week before scoring a club-record six goals in the third period Thursday to turn a 4-2 hole into an 8-5 victory over Nashville.
It was the performance in the first 40 minutes against the Predators that had coach Todd McLellan fuming. It was the performance late in this game that did in the Sharks.
They got first-period goals from Ryane Clowe and Patrick Marleau to take a 2-0 lead but didn’t get anything else by Tomas Vokoun, who made 37 saves.
“We came out and had a little fire in our belly and played extremely hard in the first period,” McLellan said. “But we let it get away from us. That’s the inconsistency in our game right now. Obviously they heard the message at the start but now we reversed the trend and didn’t finish real well. We have to move on.”
Keith Ballard’s one-timer off a cross-ice pass from Radek Dvorak got Florida on board early in the second period before Matthias tied it just more than five minutes into the third.
Greiss lost in his first start since Feb. 10 at Columbus. He did start three games at the Olympics for Germany, losing all three times.
In the first four games of the homestand, the Sharks scored only three of their 16 goals in the first two periods. The nearly matched that in the first period alone against Florida.
“When they came out in the first, they were flying,” Allen said. “It could have been a long game, and we just tried to stick with it.”
Just more than five minutes into the game, the Sharks got on the board when Marleau won a faceoff in the offensive zone. Clowe took the puck near the boards and skated to the middle of the ice all alone before beating Vokoun with a wrist shot through the pads to make it 1-0. That ended a string of nine straight games that San Jose had allowed the first goal.
The Sharks added to the lead late in the period on the power play when Marleau one-timed a pass from Pavelski at the bottom of the faceoff circle and beat Vokoun to the top of the net for his 41st goal.
“We got off to a much better start tonight which was good,” Pavelski said. “That was one thing we addressed. Now we have to figure out how to play with the lead.”
NOTES: The Sharks recalled D Jason Demers from Worcester before the game to replace Douglas Murray, who is day to day after being hit in the skate by a slap shot Thursday against Nashville. … Florida C Stephen Weiss, who leads the team with 23 goals, played two days after taking a shot off the foot on Thursday in Colorado. C Jeff Taffe, who was recalled from the minors in case Weiss couldn’t play, was scratched.