SUNRISE — Despite missing their captain, the Florida Panthers picked up their third win in a row for the first time all season.
Sam Reinhart’s two-goal second period propelled the Panthers to a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks with Sasha Barkov out with a hand injury to start the team’s first winning streak of the season.
”The important thing is that we need to go on a bit of a run here,” Reinhart said.
”We got to take advantage of home ice, especially with all of the opportunities ahead of us. It might not be our best, ut we have to find ways to win.”
Barkov’s replacement on the top line, Eetu Luostarinen, picked up an assist with a feed to Reinhart as he was falling to the ice to put Florida ahead late in the second period.
Maurice started the line of Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett and Carter Verhaeghe against San Jose’s top line initially but switched to Luostarinein’s line with Barkov’s regular linemates after trailing in the first period.
His line ended up a plus-2 playing against Sharks stars Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl.
“He is strong enough all over the ice that he can play against any line,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said.
”We had run Bennett against Hertl’s line, whichh is a big, powerful, high-scoring line but it wasn’t going in our favor and then we started to run Luostarinen and their top line is a minus-two. That’s the shift in the game for me.”
Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 33 shots to help the Panthers hold off the Sharks, including nine in the third period.
The Panthers found themselves on a four-minute penalty kill after Aaron Ekblad took a double-minor high-sticking penalty with 4:52 to go in the third period up 2-1.
Luostarinen and Eric Staal shouldered heavy minutes on the top penalty kill unit and helped keep San Jose’s chances to the perimeter.
Bobrovsky made four saves to keep the game tied and Staal scored two empty-net goals as the penalty kill winded down to help Florida secure the victory.
Barkov is expected to return to the Panthers lineup on Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche, per Maurice.
The Florida captain was held out of the lineup for precautionary reasons to make sure his minor hand injury did not turn into a major issue from something sustained in game.
THE GOALS OF THE GAME
- Sharks 1, Panthers 0 (5:49, 1st): Alexander Barabanov shoveled an Erik Karlsson rebound past Sergei Bobrovsky on his backhand.
- Panthers 1, Sharks 1 (4:30, 2nd): Sam Reinhart beat Kaapo Kahkonen glove side with a wrist shot from the face-off circle.
- Panthers 2, Sharks 1 (19:19, 2nd): Reinhart deflected a feed from a falling Eetu Luostarinen past Kahkonen for his second of the game.
- Panthers 3, Sharks 1 (18:21, 3rd): Luostairnen forces a turnover at center ice to set up an Eric Staal empty-netter.
- Panthers 4, Sharks 2 (18:55, 3rd): E. Staal Empty-Netter 2: Electric Boogaloo
COLBY’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Sam Reinhart, Florida (two goals)
2. Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida (33 saves)
3. Eetu Luostarinen, Florida (two assists)
PANTHERS ON DECK
COLORADO AVALANCHE AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Split 1-1
- This season (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 5, Avalanche 4 (Jan. 10)
- All-time regular season series: Colorado leads 26-12-5, 3 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Monday at Minnesota, 8 p.m.