SAN JOSE – The Sharks finally scored a power play goal at home, when Marty Havlat’s second period marker ended an 0-for-30 stretch at SAP Center.
It was the failure of that unit in the third period, though, that stands out in the 3-2 loss to the lowly Florida Panthers on Tuesday night. Despite four straight power plays in the final frame, including nearly a minute of two-man advantage time, San Jose failed to generate any more with a man advantage while trailing by two goals.
Still, the Sharks drew to within 3-2 with 3:03 left in regulation, when Brent Burns pushed in a loose puck after an offensive zone faceoff. San Jose kept up the pressure and Joe Pavelski had a chance to tie it with 30 seconds to go, but Roberto Luongo denied his puck poke.
San Jose outshot Florida in the third period by an incredible 29-2 margin, a franchise record for most shots in a period. Shots were 54-24 for the game.
The Sharks failed to take over possession of first place in the Pacific Division, as Anaheim, which visits on Thursday, lost to Washington. The clubs remain tied with 97 points, but the Ducks have played one fewer game.
San Jose’s six-game winning streak came to an end. They fell to 10-2-1 in their last 13 games, and 25-5-4 at home.
After an action-free first, the Sharks took the lead on Havlat’s power play goal. An attempted pass by Burns hit Florida defenseman Tom Gilbert’s skate, and deflected right to Havlat in the high slot for Havlat’s fourth goal in his last six games at 4:02 of the second.
The Panthers erased a 1-0 deficit with two quick goals in the second period.
Brandon Pirri’s spectacular end-to-end rush, which began with him gloving down a puck deep in his own end, tied it. Pirri’s burst of speed past Jason Demers got him an open look at the net, and although Antti Niemi got most of the shot, it trickled off of the goaltender’s back and past the line at 11:23.
Pirri helped generate Florida’s second goal just 17 seconds later, lifting up Andrew Desjardins’ stick in the neutral zone and taking possession of the puck. Pirri’s shot snuck through Niemi, and Howden slammed it home, giving the Panthers their first lead.
Scottie Upshall’s one-timer with less than 15 seconds to go made it 3-1 just before the second intermission. The goal came shortly after Joe Thornton had a chance to tie it on a breakaway, but lost control of the puck trying to make a move on Luongo.
The teams split two meetings this season, including a 3-0 Sharks win on Jan. 16 in Florida. The Panthers have won their last three games at SAP Center.
San Jose concluded a run of 12 straight games against Eastern Conference teams, with a 9-2-1 record.
Havlat’s goal was the team’s first power play goal at SAP Center since Feb. 3. The Sharks finished 1-for-6.
Florida entered the game with the worst power play and penalty kill percentages in the NHL. It was 0-for-2 on the power play.
Coming off of his best game of the year on Sunday in New York, Niemi’s performance against the Panthers was forgettable. He allowed three goals on 24 shots, the last two of which looked stoppable.
Luongo made 52 saves, including 28 in the third period.
Raffi Torres missed his fifth straight game with soreness.
The Panthers were without several of their young up-and-coming players due to injury, including forwards Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov.
Anaheim visits on Thursday in a battle for first place in the division, and the Capitals are in town on Saturday, March 22.
San Jose has 12 games remaining on its schedule, including seven at home.