The San Jose Sharks and Florida Panthers figure to be in vastly different moods when they meet Sunday afternoon in Sunrise, Fla.
San Jose will make the short trip from Tampa Bay, likely agitated after the Sharks fell behind 5-0 and lost 7-1 on Saturday night to the Lightning. Starter Martin Jones gave up four goals in 40:52 of ice time, and backup Aaron Dell allowed three in the third period.
“The third period was unacceptable,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said of Tampa Bay’s four-goal barrage. “It was a poor effort by us.”
Florida’s players, meanwhile, slept in their own beds on Saturday night after defeating the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1. Sergei Bobrovsky, who is expected to start against San Jose, stopped 33 Columbus shots in his first game against his former team.
“I appreciate the Columbus organization and everything they did for me,” said Bobrovsky, who spent seven years with the Blue Jackets before signing with the Panthers in July as a free agent. “It’s kind of weird to face your former teammates, but I’m happy to get the two points.”
San Jose, which entered Saturday as the No. 1 penalty-kill team in the NHL with a 91.4-percent success rate, allowed two power-play goals on Saturday, both by Steven Stamkos. Prior to Saturday, San Jose had allowed a league-low nine power-play goals all season.
Offensively, San Jose went 0-for-4 on its power play on Saturday. Over their past 10 games, the Sharks are 0-for-23 with the man advantage.
“It’s frustrating,” said DeBoer, whose Sharks have lost three straight games, a skid that was preceded by 11 wins in 13 games. “I’ve been trying to be patient (with the power play).
“But it hasn’t been good. … We know the answer is there. The personnel is there. We’ve got to execute.”
Sunday could be a big challenge for the Sharks because Florida’s penalty-kill unit has allowed only 10 goals this season, which — following San Jose’s rough Saturday night — is now the fewest in the NHL.
San Jose will also be facing a Florida offense that entered Saturday fifth in the NHL in goals per game (3.44) and tied for seventh in the league in power-play conversion percentage (22.9). The Panthers went 1-for-4 on their power play on Saturday.
From San Jose’s perspective, holding the Panthers under three goals is the main objective. The Sharks have an active NHL record with 45 consecutive wins in games they have allowed two or fewer goals.
The Sharks, who haven’t won a game since Nov. 30, are led in goals by Evander Kane (13), in points by Logan Couture and in assists by Erik Karlsson and Couture (20 each).
Karlsson, the NHL’s highest-paid defenseman, played a season-high 29:45 against Carolina on Thursday and 24:33 versus Tampa Bay.
San Jose’s defense also includes Brent Burns. Florida’s Keith Yandle and Burns are the NHL’s active leaders in consecutive games played by a defenseman.
The Panthers are led by Brett Connolly in goals (13). Center Aleksander Barkov has a team-high 25 assists and is tied with Jonathan Huberdeau with 34 points.
But the Panthers are just 29th in the league in goals allowed per game (3.48).
Panthers defenseman Josh Brown, who scored just his second goal of the season on Saturday, said the quick turnaround on Sunday will be a challenge for both teams.
“Back-to-backs are tough,” Brown said. “But that’s how you get to this level.
“We have to suck it up, get some rest and try to do the same thing. San Jose is a pretty good team, but, if we stick to our fundamentals, we’ll be all right.”
–Field Level Media