Logan Couture scored in regulation and Joe Pavelski got the decider in the shootout as the Sharks downed the Panthers on Thursday at BB&T Center, 2-1.
Florida opened the scoring. Early in the third period of a scoreless tie, the Panthers rushed up the ice with numbers. Vincent Trocheck’s shot hit Tomas Hertl in the slot and ended up on Jaromir Jagr’s stick, and the 44-year-old slipped it through Martin Jones’ legs at 2:23.
San Jose finally broke through at 8:56, when coach Pete DeBoer loaded up the top line with Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Couture. After Pavelski pushed the puck to Thornton behind the net, Thornton spotted Couture open between the circles and Couture whipped it inside the near post by Al Montoya for his sixth score.
In the shootout, Joonas Donskoi and Pavelski beat Montoya to give San Jose the extra point in the standings.
San Jose improved to 13-2-3 in its last 18 games, 4-0-1 in its last five, and 20-8-2 on the road. The Sharks have won the first two of a five-game road trip, including Tuesday night in Tampa Bay.
The Sharks power play suffered a rare off night, failing miserably on four chances. On one power play in the second period, Trocheck had a breakaway that he couldn’t convert after the puck jumped over his stick, and later Jonathan Huberdeau had a partial break of his own while Garrett Wilson was serving an interference minor.
In overtime, Trocheck’s slash gave the Sharks a power play with 1:28 to go, but they had trouble getting the puck to the front of the net.
The ice appeared downright atrocious for most of the game, contributing to just 33 total shots on goal through three periods. The Sharks had just one shot in the third period – Couture’s goal – while Florida had only three.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s eight-game point streak (8a), tied for a franchise record with Brent Burns, came to an end.
Thornton increased his point streak to seven games (3g, 7a). He has at least one point in 25 of his last 27 games (8g, 27a).
The Sharks improved to 3-2 in games decided by a shootout.
San Jose entered the game with the NHL’s best power play since Nov. 22 before taking an 0-for-4. Florida had killed of just 17 of its last 26 opponent power plays entering the game.
Florida had just one power play, failing to convert. The Sharks are 20-for-22 on the PK in their last eight games (90.9 percent).
Jones started for the 11th time in the last 12 games for San Jose, which could turn to struggling backup Alex Stalock for the second of a back-to-back on Friday in Carolina. He made a key pad stop on a partial breakaway by Trocheck with 4:15 to go in the third period, robbed him again with a glove early in overtime, and finished with 19 saves.
Montoya was playing his second straight ahead of regular starter Roberto Luongo, the first time he played consecutive games this season. He played both games against the Sharks this season, and allowed just one goal on 17 San Jose shots.
Tommy Wingels left Thursday night's Sharks-Panthers game in the first period after going hard into the boards, and did not return with a possible left shoulder injury.
Wingels got tangled up with defenseman Aaron Ekblad, lost his footing, and went hard into the boards before going off under his own power.
Brenden Dillon missed his fourth straight game, and remains day-to-day.
The Panthers were without several key pieces including Aleksander Barkov, Dave Bolland, Willie Mitchell, Eric Gudbranson and Brandon Pirri.
The Sharks wrap up their two-game season series with Carolina on Friday. Joel Ward’s hat trick paced San Jose back on Oct. 24 in a 5-2 Sharks win.