Wingels scores winner to lead Sharks over Panthers 4-2

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Tommy Wingels made up for an early defensive mistake by scoring the game-winning goal to lift the San Jose Sharks over the Florida Panthers 4-2 on Thursday night.

Wingels tried to block a shot from Florida’s Jason Demers but instead the puck deflected off his stick and past goalie Martin Jones to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead 5 minutes into the game.

“Unlucky. I tried to block the shot. I was a little late coming off the bench and sorting it out in the (defensive zone),” Wingels said. “My bad.”

Tied at 2 in the third, Wingels gave the Sharks a 3-2 lead after he grabbed the puck off the faceoff and backhanded it past James Reimer.

“A good jump off the faceoff, was able to get some good body position, poked it by the D-man and found a way to bury it,” Wingels said. “That was a big goal for us.”

Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns also scored for the Sharks while Jones made 22 saves.

Jason Demers scored his first two goals of the season, both in the first period, for the Panthers. Reimer, in his third start in six games, made 25 stops. Jaromir Jagr recorded an assist.

Couture added an empty-net goal with 57 seconds left to make it 4-2.

The Sharks have won the first two games on a six-game trip.

“It’s good. On a long road trip you want to pile up as many wins in a row as you can. Certainly, a good start for us,” Wingels said.

The Sharks came back from a 2-0 deficit in the first.

Trailing 2-0, Burns skated in from the left side on Reimer and shoved in the puck in with 3:42 left in the first to make the score 2-1.

“It was a tough start. A couple of weird bounces and you’re in the hole two,” Burns said. “Kind of a lucky block. Got past the guy and didn’t really aim it. Just hope it goes in.”

Pavelski tied the score 2-all 1:53 into the second. He picked off the puck when Florida’s Alex Petrovic tried to clear from the sideboards and his shot from low in the left circle went over the shoulder of Reimer on the glove side.

“You expect they’re going to up their effort, and I thought we matched it,” Reimer said. “It was a good hockey game. Unfortunately, we fell short.”

The Panthers fells to 4-3 when leading after one period.

“It’s been a trend since early in the year and we’ve got to fix it soon. It’s embarrassing,” Demers said. “We let off the gas and let teams back in the games.”

Demers’s second goal came after Jagr took a shot from the right circle that bounced off Aleksander Barkov and dropped into the crease. Demers skated in and poked in the puck at 7:26 to make it 2-0.

“I don’t care if I get four goals. It doesn’t mean anything if we don’t win,” Demers said.

Demers, in his ninth NHL season, played for the Sharks from 2009 to 2014 before being traded to the Dallas Stars in November 2014. Demers was signed as a free agent by Florida in July 2016.

NOTES: Jones has started 10 consecutive games for the Sharks. … Pavelski leads the Sharks with 14 points. … Panthers D Dylan McIlrath, acquired from the New York Rangers for D Steven Kampfer and a 2018 conditional seventh-round draft pick, was scratched. … LW Jussi Jokinen returned to the Panthers after missing nine games with a knee injury. … The Panthers took warmups with camouflage jerseys in honor of Military Appreciation night.

UP NEXT:

Sharks: Visit Tampa Bay on Saturday.

Panthers: Host the New York Islanders on Saturday.

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