Panthers 3, Sharks 2

Jason Garrison just kept firing, and eventually it paid off.

Garrison snapped a tie with 2:01 left in the third period and

the Florida Panthers stopped a five-game home losing streak with a

3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.

Garrison’s slap shot from the point beat Antti Niemi on the

stick side after Florida had the puck in the San Jose zone for

about a minute. It was Garrison’s third shot from the point on that

shift.

”First shot got through, I think it hit him in the chest or

something, the next one was tipped wide and the third one went

in,” he said. ”You just want to maintain pressure and you want to

get to loose pucks and get pucks on net, especially when they’re

out there for over a minute. You just want to funnel pucks to the

net and crash to the net and that’s kind of what happened.”

San Jose coach Todd McLellan said fatigue played a major role in

Garrison’s third goal of the season.

”The two wingers couldn’t breathe by the end (of that shift)

and they made us pay for it,” McLellan said. ”We needed one clear

to get fresh guys on the ice and we would have been fine.”

Chris Higgins also scored in the third and assisted on

Garrison’s goal, helping Florida pull out a close one for a change.

It was the Panthers’ 15th one-goal game in their last 16, but only

the sixth time (6-4-5) they came away victorious.

”It definitely feels good,” Higgins said. ”We’ve played a lot

of one-goal games and it seems like we’ve been on the losing half

in a lot of them – at least it feels that way. But to come back,

especially to score two big goals in the third definitely feels

good. We definitely needed points.”

Mike Santorelli also scored and Marty Reasoner had two assists

for the Panthers, who won for only the third time in their last 12

games (3-4-5). Tomas Vokoun stopped 28 shots to improve to 10-0-1

in his last 11 starts against San Jose.

Joe Pavelski and Kent Huskins scored for the Sharks, who have

lost two in a row after going 9-0-1 in their previous 10 games.

Pavelski assisted on Huskins’ goal, and Torrey Mitchell had two

assists.

”We need one extra save and we need one extra shot to go in at

the other end, and we didn’t get that,” McLellan said. ”We could

have shown a little more poise and composure, but it’s time to

regroup and move on. We’re not getting this one back.”

Niemi, who had given up four goals in his previous four starts,

made 19 saves for San Jose, which outshot Florida 30-22.

Higgins’ goal at 10:36 tied it at 2 after Pavelski put San Jose

in front early in the period. Higgins grabbed a loose puck near the

boards, skated toward the net and slipped a backhand past

Niemi.

Pavelski backhanded a rebound from a sharp angle two minutes

into the third to make it 2-1 Sharks.

Huskins opened the scoring 17:57 into the first period with his

second goal of the season, both coming in his last three games. He

took a feed from Pavelski from behind the net and beat Vokoun with

a slap shot through traffic from the top of the faceoff circle.

”It’s just a couple of lucky shots, but it’s nice when it

happens,” Huskins said. ”I haven’t changed anything, really. The

opportunities were just there. It’s just a good job by our forwards

of working it down low and creating traffic in front and it just

kind of opens things up.”

Santorelli tied it with 29 seconds left in the second. After

Niemi stopped his wrist shot, Santorelli got the rebound and passed

from behind the goal line, and it went in off Niemi’s right

skate.

”It was a good win for us,” Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said.

”Hopefully, it builds some confidence. We’re a young team and

we’re a little fragile at points. This hopefully will be a big

boost for us to let us know that we can win games like this.”

NOTES: San Jose lost in regulation for only the second time in

its last 10 games (6-2-2) against Florida. … Florida F Cory

Stillman returned after missing two games because of an upper-body

injury sustained in practice. … Florida D Dmitry Kulikov missed

the game because of an ankle injury sustained Thursday night

against Buffalo.