Sat, 21 May 2022

Familiar faces return to Florida when Sharks visit hot Panthers

Field Level Media
29 Jan 2022, 09:19 GMT+10

San Jose Sharks coach Bob Boughner and goalie James Reimer should feel at home on Saturday night.

That's when the Sharks will play the sizzling-hot Florida Panthers at Sunrise, Fla. Boughner was Florida's coach for two seasons, going 80-62-22 from 2017 -19.

Reimer played for the Panthers from2016-19, earning a 53-42-16 record with a 2.85 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.

On Wednesday, Reimer made 32 saves in a 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals. It was a huge effort for the 12-year veteran, who was chased in his previous game, a 7-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning last week.

"I don't know if it was the biggest (win) of the year," Boughner said. "But it was a response game. That's what we stressed -- picking ourselves off the floor."

Reimer (22 starts) has split time this season with Adin Hill (21 starts). Reimer has a 2.74 goals-against average this season. Hill, who hasn't played since last Saturday due to a lower-body injury, has a 2.78 mark.

San Jose's best player has been winger Timo Meier, an All-Star this season and the NHL's reigning Third Star for the week.

Meier set a franchise record last week with a five-goal game against the Los Angeles Kings. He leads the Sharks and ranks 12th in the NHL with 47 points. He is fifth in the league in shots on goals, and his 21 tallies are tied for the team lead with Tomas Hertl.

The Sharks have two star defensemen in Brent Burns (28 points) and Erik Karlsson (26 points). But Karlsson had surgery on his left forearm on Tuesday and will be re-evaluated in mid-March.

The Panthers lead the NHL with 65 points and have won eight straight home games. With a 22-3-0 start at home, they tied the most home wins through 25 games in league history.

Offensively, Sam Bennett leads the team with 20 goals. Since being acquired last season from the Calgary Flames, he has 26 goals and 43 points in 44 games. Since Jan. 1, he ranks second in the NHL with 11 goals.

Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov -- despite missing 13 games earlier this season -- ranks second on the team with 19 goals. On Thursday, Barkov reached 200 goals and 500 points for his career. Only three other natives of Finland reached 500 NHL points in fewer games than Barkov: Jari Kurri, Teemu Selanne and Tomas Sandstrom.

The Panthers, who have reached 30 wins faster than any team in franchise history, are led overall by Jonathan Huberdeau, who has 43 assists and 59 points. He entered the weekend atop the league in both statistics.

"I've been around a while, and you don't get many opportunities to be around a group like this," Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette said. "The players hold themselves accountable. They compete with joy, and they're unselfish. You get spoiled watching them."

Florida got good news on Wednesday when defenseman Gustav Forsling returned after missing four games while in COVID protocol. He was a plus-two with three takeaways in Thursday's 4-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights.

It was also his 200th career game.

"I feel like I'm taking big steps here," said Forsling, who has already set his career highs in assists (18) and points (19). "I'm grateful to this organization."

Florida is expected to start veteran goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (21-4-3, 2.46 GAA, .922 SP) Saturday.

--Field Level Media

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