Florida Panthers (6-9-2 SU, 7-10 PL, 12-5 O/U) vs. San Jose Sharks (10-6 SU, 7-9 PL, 4-11-1 O/U)
NHL: Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 10:30 p.m. EST
The Line: San Jose Sharks -150/Florida Panthers +130. Total: 5.5.
The San Jose Sharks have won six of their last seven games heading into a home date with the Florida Panthers at the SAP Center on Thursday night. San Jose is coming off consecutive victories over Vancouver and Los Angeles. The Panthers have lost six of their last eight contests, but the two wins during this stretch have come in their last three outings.
Trying to stay out of the cellar
Florida received a much-needed boost from a shootout victory before embarking on a difficult California trip that begins with a matchup against the surging Sharks. The Panthers rallied to tie Dallas in the third period of Tuesday’s contest, weathered a storm in overtime, and eventually got the winner from Vincent Trocheck for a 4-3 victory over the Stars. With that Florida avoided owning sole possession of last place in the Atlantic Division.
“You see teams win one, lose one all the time,” goalie Roberto Luongo explained. “The good teams are able to put it on the ice every night on a consistent basis. That’s how we’re going to turn this thing around.”
Florida, which is 30th in the league goals-against per game (3.76), leans on an offense which boasts four players that are averaging at least one point per outing. Forward Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice against Dallas and pushed his team-leading total to 21 points–two better than center Aleksander Barkov, who has two goals and two assists over the past three contests. Trocheck had an assist before his shootout winner and has accumulated seven points in six games this month, while Evgenii Dadonov (17 points) has three in the last three.
San Jose will present quite a challenge for the Panthers after winning six of its last seven games while lowering its league-best goal-against mark to 2.25. Logan Couture has led the Sharks offense, registering 10 goals and 15 points on the season after scoring twice against Vancouver in a 5-0 victory last Saturday. He also recorded an assist in Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Los Angeles. Tomas Hertl and fellow forward Joe Thornton, who missed practice the last two days but will likely be in the lineup, are the only other players in double-figures this season with 10 points. Forwards Barclay Goodrow (two assists, four games) and Joel Ward (two goals, one assist, four games) have formed a solid duo on the fourth line this month.
“The thing for us is not giving away the puck,” Ward commented.
The Florida Panthers are:
- 2-6 in their last eight overall
- 3-11 in their last 14 road games
- 5-13 in their last 18 games against teams with winning records
The San Jose Sharks are:
- 6-1 in their last seven overall
- 5-1 in their last six home games
- 6-2 in their last eight games against the Atlantic Division
For Florida, Jared McCann and captain Derek MacKenzie and Jared McCann are questionable with lower-body injuries. For the Sharks, reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns (seven assists) still seeks his first goal after scoring 29 last season. Fellow defenseman Paul Martin (ankle) is close a return after missing five weeks. San Jose has earned at least a point in five straight games (3-0-2) against the Panthers but lost 6-5 in overtime at home in February. The Panthers are 2-6 in their last eight overall, 3-11 in their last 14 on the road, 5-13 in their last 18 against winning opponents, 1-5 in their last six on the road against opponents with winning home records, and 0-4 in their last four following a win. San Jose is 6-1 in its last seven overall, 5-1 in its last six at home, and 6-2 in its last eight against the Atlantic Division. Don’t be surprised if those trends continue.