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Saturday Night Alive: Florida Panthers 5, San Jose Sharks 4 (OT)

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Florida Panthers center Joe Thornton poses with former San Jose teammate Brent Burns during warmups Saturday night at FLA Live Arena. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

The last time Bob Boughner was a head coach at the Florida Panthers arena in Sunrise, his team lost and he was fired soon afterward.

Saturday night could not have felt much better.

Boughner’s San Jose squad watched the Panthers erase a pair of two-goal deficits in the third period alone en route to a 5-4 overtime win at FLA Live Arena.

Sam Bennett got the game winner 1:08 into overtime.

Jonathan Huberdeau, the NHL’s leading scorer, had a big-time assist on the OT winner, giving him three points.

Florida scored three goals in the third period — and that’s not counting the one scored by Carter Verhaeghe which was taken off the board for offside.

The Panthers (call em’ the Comeback Cats if you want to) have now won nine consecutive games on home ice and are 22-3-0 in Sunrise this season.

“Our team doesn’t give up,’’ Huberdeau said. “We have belief in ourselves and that is why we are a good team. We know we can do it. Obviously, you don’t want to fall behind, but I feel we have been doing it so many times this year that we knew after the second period to not give up.”

Former Florida goalie James Reimer was under siege all night — he faced 48 shots during regulation — and pretty much got the Sharks a point on his own.

Saturday night was just nuts, and it all went down in front of the biggest crowd of the season.

The Panthers, who have been drawing in excess of 15,000 the past few games, had an announced crowd of 18,152 on hand.

Florida’s previous high this season was 15,857 against the Rangers last month.

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Despite Florida controlling the flow and holding the puck for much of the night, the Panthers found themselves down two goals on three different occasions.

Against Reimer, at least until the third, scoring was at a premium.

San Jose took its first lead six minutes into the game on a sharp shot from Tomas Hertl as he beat Bobrovsky through his legs.

With 2:43 remaining in the first, Jonathan Dahlen got a power play goal through traffic to put the Panthers down two goals at home for the first time since the team was decimated because of Covid in a loss to the Kings last month.

Florida was able to get one back, however, with Gus Forsling firing off a shot from the left circle off a nice pass by Sam Reinhart from the back wall.

But the Sharks made it a two-goal game again 1:31 into the second on a goal from Matt Nieto.

And it was in the second where Reimer shined.

Florida had 18 shots in the second period alone and went into the third with a total of 62 shot attempts against Reimer with only one goal to show for it.

The Panthers finally got one past Reimer early in the third when Sasha Barkov slid through the slot and teed off on a Huberdeau feed.

As was the case on the western Canada trip when Florida was struggling a bit, coach Andew Brunette put Barkov and Huberdeau back together.

It certainly paid dividends, although it certainly cost Anthony Duclair who only got four shifts in the third and did not play the final six minutes of regulation nor overtime.

Not long after Barkov’s goal, Brandon Montour went to the penalty box and the Sharks cashed in on the power play again as Dahlen got his second of the night.

It briefly appeared Florida made it 4-3 on a Carter Verhaeghe goal 41 seconds later — but Boughner challenged for offside and, well, Huberdeau was.

Some teams may have put their heads down, but not the Panthers.

Two minutes after the goal was disallowed, Mason Marchment officially made it 4-3 when he poked at a loose puck Reimer had no chance at.

Another two minutes later and it was a tie game as Huberdeau crashed the net and tapped in a really nice feed from Verhaeghe.

Florida continued to come after Reimer who ended his night with 44 saves.

He only faced one shot in overtime — and it was Bennett getting No. 21 this season.

The Panthers were shooting machines on Saturday, taking aim 90 times with San Jose blocking 26 of those offerings. The Sharks ended their night with 34 shots on goal — and a grand total of 44 attempts.

GR’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME

1. Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida

2. Sam Bennett, Florida

3. James Reimer, Florida San Jose

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS AT COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

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