SAN JOSE -– The Sharks and their starting goaltender entered Thursday night’s home game with the Florida Panthers in desperate need of a victory.
They got it. Alex Stalock made 31 saves, and the Sharks had 11 players record at least one point in a 5-2 win at SAP Center. It was Stalock’s first win of the season after his first two starts were losses, while San Jose pulled through for just the third time in its last seven games, but second in the last three.
Brent Burns, Joonas Donskoi, Patrick Marleau, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Chris Tierney (empty net) scored for San Jose, which improved its record to 7-6-0 overall and 3-3-0 at home.
The Sharks never trailed, jumping out to a 2-0 lead. Burns’ wrist shot from the point appeared to deflect on its way past Al Montoya at 6:37 of the first period to open the scoring. Less than three minutes later, a Joe Pavelski shot resulted in a loose puck and mad scramble in front of the Florida net, and Donskoi charged in to push it over the line.
The teams alternated scores after that through the second period, beginning with Vincent Trocheck flipping a puck over Stalock at 10:54 of the first period after an offensive zone faceoff win by Florida.
The goal of the night came early in the second to give San Jose a 3-1 edge, when Marleau took control of a loose puck in the neutral zone, and breezed ahead into the offensive zone. He undressed defenseman Alex Petrovic, who finished with a minus-5 rating, cut hard to the net and backhanded in his fourth goal at 3:46.
It held up as the game-winner.
Brandon Pirri’s one-timer on a Florida power play brought the visitors back to within one goal, but the Sharks regained a two-goal cushion before the middle frame was through. Nikolay Goldobin, recalled from the Barracuda on Thursday morning, skated ahead on an odd-man rush and found Vlasic with a cross-ice pass with one minute to go in the period.
Prior to Vlasic’s marker -– the first by a Sharks defenseman not named Burns –- San Jose had a Donskoi goal disallowed after video review showed Joe Thornton was offside on the play.
After killing off a pair of Panthers power plays in the third period, Tierney’s empty net goal put it away.
The Sharks beat the Panthers in their home building for the first time since Dec. 8, 2005 (1-2-2). Florida entered with wins in seven of the last eight head-to-head meetings.
Florida, which lost in overtime to the Ducks on Wednesday, lost its fourth straight (0-2-2).
The clubs meet in South Florida again on Feb. 18.
The Sharks surrendered a goal on the penalty kill for the 10th time in the last 11 games, as Florida finished 1-for-3. The penalty kill did keep the Panthers off of the board on a pair of third period advantages, though.
San Jose was 0-for-2 with a man advantage, and has still not recorded a power play goal at home in six games (0-for-15).
Florida entered the night as the NHL’s third best team at five-on-five, but the Sharks struck for five even-strength goals while surrendering just one.
Stalock improved to 2-0 in his career against Florida. His only other appearance was his first career shutout on Jan. 16, 2014, a 3-0 win.
The 28-year-old goalie entered the night with a 3-7-1 record, 3.04 goals-against average and .884 save percentage in his last 13 games dating back to last season, so it was fair to wonder if his job was in jeopardy.
Roberto Luongo had the night off after playing in Anaheim on Wednesday night. Montoya lost for the first time in regulation (2-1-1).
Goldobin took Matt Nieto’s place on the third line, while Nieto was demoted to the fourth line with Micheal Haley and Bryan Lerg. Mike Brown was out with an upper body injury, but is expected back for Saturday.
Pavelski, who assisted on Donskoi’s goal, increased his point streak to seven games. His career high five-game goal streak came to an end.
Justin Braun played in his 300th career game.
The Sharks remain at home to host the Islanders on Saturday and Ducks on Tuesday. San Jose is in the midst of a stretch of nine games out of 10 against the Eastern Conference.