There should have been a sign outside BB&T Center Thursday, Feb. 18: Beware of Bog. If each team’s attack was not bogged down by defenders, the swampy conditions would do it in. In the end, the San Jose Sharks won the defensive battle in a shootout over the host Florida Panthers.
The edge in pictured stars is the only thing that elevated the Sharks to victory. The Panthers held most of the event summary advantages but alarming disadvantages in two key stats in italics: 29-27 faceoffs, 20-8 giveaways, 9-6 takeaways, 31-18 hits, 20-18 shots, 34-56 attempts, 16-8 blocks.
Yes, the two teams combined for just 38 shots on goal. There was pretty good end-to-end skating but soft boards, bad ice, excellent defensive responsibility from the skaters and outstanding goaltending collaborated to leave the game 1-1 even after five minutes of three-man overtime.
The first goal was not scored until the third period. Tomas Hertl had the shot of his childhood idol go off him and past Martin Jones for Florida. Shooting a loose puck Vincent Trocheck had gotten to the slot, Jaromir Jagr became the second forward in NHL history to score a goal after his 44th birthday and is now one away from tying Bobby Hull with 741 career goals.
San Jose head coach Peter DeBoer put together a super line that paid off in the middle of the third to tie it up, and all three forwards were involved: Captain Joe Pavelski reversed the puck from the right-wing corner to Joe Thornton behind the net and the play-making great fed Logan Couture who had gotten open in the slot.
Both Jones and Al Montoya made a couple great saves on the night, but only one carried it over to the shootout. Joonas Donskoi and Pavelski buried shootout chances for the Sharks to reach 3-2 in shootouts while only Nick Bjugstad did for the Panthers—falling to 6-2 thanks in part to being without their two best at the skills competition.
It is noteworthy that Tommy Wingels missed most of the game for San Jose after going hard into the boards with his left shoulder making impact. One would think any shoulder, rib or other likely injury from such an impact would carry over into Friday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
As of noon Friday, there has been no announcement from the team about calling someone up (likely Ben Smith or Barclay Goodrow), but whoever it is would have to come from across the country to join the Sharks. Thus, it seems likely that Mike Brown will play his first game since Jan. 24 in the short-term against the Hurricanes, and he will be able to at least match Wingel’s physicality.
Assuming a recall is necessary, Smith would seem the better choice between his greater NHL experience and recent AHL success but would have to clear waivers to be sent back down. If Wingels has a long-term injury, recalling someone might not be enough and a checking forward could be on the wish list of San Jose general manager Doug Wilson (along with a backup goalie and blue-line depth).