Bennett scores in OT, Panthers come back to beat Sharks 5-4
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Sam Bennett scored 1:08 into overtime and the Florida Panthers came from behind to beat the San Jose Sharks 5-4 on Saturday night for their ninth straight victory at home.
Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and two assists, and Gustav Forsling added a goal and an assist for Florida. Aleksander Barkov and Mason Marchment also scored, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 30 shots in front of a season-high crowd of 18,152.
The Panthers (31-9-5), who lead the NHL with 67 points, have won three in a row and eight of 10. They improved to 23-3-0 at home.
“Obviously the crowd was great, kept us going in some different stretches,” interim Panthers coach Andrew Brunette said. “The feeling on the bench, we were having trouble scoring but we felt we were close. Fun game. We’re a very entertaining team and our fans left happy.”
Jonathan Dahlen had two power-play goals, and Tomas Hertl and Matt Nieto also scored for the Sharks. James Reimer made 44 saves.
“That was a fast game and they come in waves,” San Jose coach Bob Boughner said. “Real good offensive team. No. 1 in the league in puck possession and you can see why. We get a point on the road in a building that is not that forgiving to visiting teams.”
Dahlen’s second goal put the Sharks ahead 4-2 at 4:50 of the third period before the Panthers scored twice to tie it.
Marchment found a loose puck in the crease and stuffed it into the net at 7:30 for his third goal in three games. Florida pulled even on Huberdeau’s goal with 10:22 left in regulation.
Bennett won it when he took a pass from Huberdeau from behind the net and pushed in the puck from in front.
“We all know we can score some goals,” Huberdeau said. “We had chances, Reimer was playing well. We kept working, didn’t give up.”
The Panthers closed to 3-2 when Barkov fired a shot from the slot that went past Reimer at 1:26 of the third.
Nieto stretched San Jose’s lead to 3-1 at 1:06 of the second when his shot from the slot beat Bobrovsky.
Hertl put the Sharks ahead 1-0 when he got inside the crease and shoved the puck between Bobrovsky’s pads at 6:10 of the first.
Dahlen’s shot from the high slot at 17:17 of the second made it 2-0.
Forsling’s one-timer with 54 seconds left in the first put Florida on the board.
“That’s a great hockey team and (Reimer) played a great game,” Dahlen said. “This was the fastest game I’ve seen in my NHL career.”
The Panthers are off to their best 45-game start in franchise history. They had 61 points at this stage in the 1995-96 and 2020-21 seasons.
NOTES: Sharks D Mario Ferraro left in the first period with an undisclosed injury. ... It was Boughner’s first time coaching at the Panthers’ arena since his two-year stint as Florida’s head coach. Before Saturday, the Sharks last visited Florida on Dec. 8, 2019, three days before Boughner was hired by San Jose to replace the fired Peter DeBoer — another former Panthers coach. ... Florida isn’t scheduled to play at home again until Feb. 22. The Panthers play their next five games on the road, with a 15-day break between a Feb. 1 game at the New York Rangers and Feb. 16 at Carolina.
San Jose: Visits Carolina on Sunday.
Florida: Visits Columbus on Monday.
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