SAN JOSE — Even at age 36 and approaching an impressive milestone, Patrick Marleau still has the speed that’s made him so effective throughout his career.
Marleau scored a highlight-reel goal for his 997th point and the San Jose Sharks beat the Florida Panthers at home for the first time in nearly 10 years, 5-2 on Thursday night.
“I thought he was flying tonight,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “The goal spoke for itself. I thought he just had fantastic legs. He was everywhere and played a great game for us.”
Brent Burns, Joonas Donskoi, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Chris Tierney also scored for the Sharks, who had lost four in a row in their own building against Florida since winning on Dec. 8, 2005, in Joe Thornton’s second home game with the franchise.
Alex Stalock made 31 saves to earn his first win of the season as San Jose won for just the third time in nine games.
Vincent Trocheck and Brandon Pirri scored for the Panthers, who have lost the first two on their three-game California swing after dropping a shootout in Anaheim on Wednesday. Al Montoya made 27 saves.
“It’s tough when you’re defending all the time,” captain Willie Mitchell said. “We looked like a very young hockey club. Things you can get away with in junior hockey won’t cut it here.”
Marleau moved a step closer to 1,000 points with a memorable goal early in the second period. He took the puck at center ice and skated in on Alex Petrovic in the offensive zone. Marleau danced around Petrovic and then, while being hooked, dragged the puck around Montoya for a goal that made it 3-1.
“Great, great individual effort,” Thornton said. “What can you say? That’s vintage Patty Marleau.”
The Panthers answered late in the period when Brian Campbell set up Pirri for a one-timer that gave Florida its second road power-play goal of the season.
But the Sharks responded. After an apparent goal by Donskoi was wiped off when Florida successfully challenged that Thornton was offside on the play, San Jose restored the two-goal lead when rookie Nikolay Goldobin set up Vlasic for his first goal of the season with a minute remaining in the period.
The Sharks killed two penalties in the third to maintain the margin and then sealed the victory with Tierney’s empty-net goal.
San Jose opened the scoring with goals from Burns and Donskoi in the first 10 minutes to set the tone against a team playing for the second consecutive night.
“We know what it’s like to play back-to-back on the road. The home team pounces on them early, it makes for a long night,” Stalock said. “We stayed on them, and our lines tonight when we got in their zone 5-on-5, it was fun to watch.”
Trocheck got Florida on the board less than 2 minutes later when he won a faceoff and skated around Stalock for the easy goal.
Joe Pavelski had his five-game goal streak snapped, one shy of tying the San Jose record. ... The Sharks went 0 for 2 on the power play and have not scored on 15 chances at home this season. ... Panthers forward Dave Bolland was scratched after injuring his hand Wednesday. ... The Sharks called up forwards Goldobin and Micheal Haley from the AHL. Haley got into a first-period fight with Shawn Thornton.