The San Jose Sharks (35-16-6, 76 points) fell to the Philadelphia Flyers (28-23-6, 62 points) by the final score of 5-2 in a game where the Flyers exploded with a four-goal third period.
Rookie Matt Nieto was strong for the Sharks this evening, but it was not enough. Philadelphia was great on defense, especially in the neutral zone, and their offense came alive in the third period with four goals. They also ended up chasing starting goaltender Antti Niemi after scoring three goals on their first three shots in the third period.
In the first period it was the Flyers who got on the scoreboard first with a Mark Streit power play goal about five minutes into the game. Credit Wayne Simmonds for providing a great screen in front of the net and getting in the eyes of Niemi.
The San Jose Sharks would answer with not one but two goals by Nieto in a five-minute span.
His first goal came on the power play as he deflected in a Tommy Wingels pass from the wing. Nieto’s second goal was the result of great play by Brent Burns along the boards and in the corner and eventually he would fire a no-look backhanded pass to Nieto who was heading the net where he would bury the chance. At that point it was 2-1 San Jose.
Shots were hard to come by for the Sharks in the second period as they only mustered five to eight for the Flyers. Even so, there was no sustained pressure aside from a brief one-minute window of offense on a power play midway through the period. The best scoring chance came when Brent Burns hit the post on a one-timer when Joe Thornton found him all alone in front. Mason may have gotten a piece of the shot as well.
In the third period San Jose would kill off the remnants of a second period penalty, but after that the floodgates would open for the Flyers.
It started with a Matt Read goal on a simple shot from the wing that looked to deflect off of of Matt Irwin‘s stick. Then, just 1:18 later, Michale Raffl would score on a second-chance goal after Niemi made an initial save but kicked out a juicy rebound.
The goals didn’t stop there, however, as 1:27 later Claude Giroux scored on a wrist shot to make it three goals in three third period shots which effectively ended Niemi’s night with the score 4-1. Alex Stalock entered in his place.
The Flyers would add one more goal on a Jakub Voracek one-timer from Giroux. The Sharks defensive coverage was awful on the play as Voracek was unaccounted for and cruised to the front of the net without so much as a stick check. The 5-2 score would hold from there on out.
It was a rough game from start to finish from the Sharks who were outplayed all night. They did not look their usual selves yet again, and each game it is becoming more and more evident this team is not the same without Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture. Despite the injuries, they will look to bounce back against the Dallas Stars in a divisional game on Wednesday.
GGS 3 Stars
1. Claude Giroux (1 goal, 2 assists)
2. Matt Nieto (2 goals)
3. Scott Hartnell (2 assists)