Sharks let 2-0 lead slip away, fall in OT to Florida

SAN JOSE
– Fifteen games left in the regular season and the San Jose
Sharks came away with one point Saturday afternoon to expand their
lead to three over runner-up Chicago in the Western Conference
standings.
SAN JOSE – Fifteen games left in the regular season and the San Jose Sharks came away with one point Saturday afternoon to expand their lead to three over runner-up Chicago in the Western Conference standings.

The Blackhawks came within 2.1 seconds of earning at least one point Saturday, only to have Chris Pronger score with that amount of time left in regulation to carry the Philadephia Flyers by Chicago 3-2.

San Jose earned one point for a 3-2 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers at sold-out HP Pavilion Saturday. The Sharks, after rallying to three consecutive wins, built a 2-0 lead before allowing the Panthers to leave town with an OT win on Bryan Allen’s deflection that helped the puck skim between goalie Thomas Greiss’ pads 2:46 into the extra session.

After earning seven of a possible 10 points in the concluded homestand, San Jose opens a six-game roadtrip Sunday evening against the Anaheim Ducks. A seven-point roadtrip would keep San Jose in first place when the club returns to HP Pavilion on March 25 because Chicago has only five games in the next 12 days.

Ryane Clowe and Patrick Marleau each managed two points in the opening period as San Jose took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

Clowe collected a face-off from Marleau in the Panther zone and skated toward the high slot between two Florida defenders before wristing a shot inside the top corner of the net past goalie Tomas Vokoun at 5:32.

Clowe worked to keep an offensive play alive just inside the Florida blueline late in the period. Clowe was able to push the puck along the blueline to Joe Pavelski, who passed to Marleau at the top of the right circle. Marleau dropped deep into the zone before stroking a hard shot from a tough angle that skimmed over Vokoun’s left shoulder before finding the top of the net and lifting the goalie’s water bottle at 17:45.

Florida responded with one goal in the second period. Defenseman Keith Ballard notched his 30th career NHL goal when he one-timed a cross-ice feed from Radek Dvorak just 1:02 into the period.

San Jose carried a record of 30-0-4 when leading after two periods into the afternoon game. That mark soon turned into 30-0-5. Florida’s Shawn Matthias controlled a long rebound and pulled a 15-foot shot past Greiss 5:01 into the third. Allen’s game-winner came four seconds after the Panthers won an offensive zone face-off in overtime and Matthias drilled a hard shot from the left point toward the San Jose net.

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