SUNRISE — If fans of the Florida Panthers were getting season-opening vibes while watching Tuesday’s game against the visiting Sharks, they probably were not alone.
In that opener against the Wild, the Panthers did everything but score against the host Wild as Filip Gustavsson was outstanding.
For a while, that was the story on Tuesday night.
The Panthers simply could not solve San Jose goalie Mackenzie Blackwood regardless of what they were doing.
Only this San Jose team is a far cry from the squad iced in Minnesota.
Down a goal midway through the second despite dominating the winless Sharks, the Panthers got a pinball goal from Carter Verhaeghe and Sam Reinhart scored for the fifth consecutive game to help Florida pull out a 3-1 win.
A fantastic first Florida start from Anthony Stolarz certainly helped the cause as the Panthers got back to .500 at 3-3-0 with Seattle coming to town on Saturday night.
The Sharks are now 0-5-1 and headed to Tampa.
Good night and good luck.
“I am happy. That’s a good, NHL win. We are not critiquing the tape,’’ said coach Paul Maurice, whose team has now won nine straight against the Sharks dating to 2019 when Bob Boughner was their coach. Boughner then lost to the Panthers as San Jose’s interim coach in 2020.
The Panthers spent almost the entirety of the opening 30 minutes down in the San Jose zone but could not get anything through.
Then, with 5 seconds left in San Jose’s first power play, William Eklund found Fabian Zetterlund all alone in front of the net to give the Sharks an improbable 1-0 lead.
It did not last.
Moments later, Verhaeghe took a feed from Matthew Tkachuk and fired it on net — getting the puck to ricochet first off Kyle Burroughs’ leg and then off his stick.
Blackwood had no shot at it.
“He’s had a really good start,’’ a frustrated San Jose coach David Quinn said.
“Unfortunately, we’re giving up too many shots. But he’s been bailing us out, when need be.’’
The Panthers then took the lead for good at 15:23 of the second when Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s point shot bounced off Blackwood and landed at the feet of Reinhart.
The Florida forward got his sixth goal of the season and his fifth in as many games.
After traditionally getting off to a slow start, Reinhart is on fire.
“I don’t think I have ever had a (hot streak) this early in a season and it is nice,’’ Reinhart said. “When it doesn’t go in at the start of the year it is worse than the middle of the year because you have nothing to fall back on. It just adds to the pressure. To start like this is nice.”
San Jose figured some things out in the third and put the Panthers — and Stolarz — to the test especially late.
The Sharks got a power play when Eetu Luostarinen took a hooking penalty with 4:10 remaining.
Midway through, Quinn pulled Blackwood for the extended 6-on-4 but the Panthers stood tall and killed it off despite having two of their best penalty killers — Luostarinen in the box and Sasha Barkov on the sick list — unavailable.
Kevin Stenlund even got an empty net goal for the fun of it.
“It is obviously exciting,’’ Stolarz said. “We work hard in practice and to stay sharp so you are ready to go when your name is called. There were some jitters with the crowd but I knew the guys would show up for me and they did.’’
PANTHERS ON DECK
SEATTLE KRAKEN @ FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
- Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
- Radio: WAXY 790-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL App
- This Season: @ Florida, Saturday; @ Seattle, Dec. 12
- Last season: Tied 1-1
- All-time regular season series: Seattle leads 3-1-0
- Up Next for the Panthers: Monday at Boston, 7