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Sharks Start Strong Again, Win 3-2 in Philly

(Originally published at Sports Radio Service)

The San Jose Sharks lost two defensemen and had to go to a shootout after outshooting the Philadelphia Flyers 44-18, but they won 3-2. The shootout winner was scored by Brent Burns. Matt Irwin and Joe Pavelski scored the regulation goals for the Sharks, while Michael Raffl and Claude Giroux scored for the Flyers. Goaltender Al Stalock made 16 saves on 18 shots from the win, while Steve Mason made 42 saves on 44 shots for the Flyers.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic sustained a lower body injury during the first period and is not expected to play in Pittsburgh. Scott Hannan was also injured later in the game and is also likely to be out Sunday. Of finishing the game after so many injuries, head coach Todd McLellan said:

When you get to four, it’s pretty easy, you just keep saying “next.” You know, at five, which happened fairly early in the game, I thought our D did a really good job and our forwards protected them. We played enough in the offensive zone to not have them too taxed in our end. Where we ran into trouble is a little bit on the penalty kill against a very good power play but we managed the game well once they got hurt.

As they did in Detroit on Thursday, the Sharks had a very strong first period in Philadelphia. On those good starts, Joe Pavelski said:

We had a good practice the other night in Detroit. The same thing happened, we were pretty good all night, we weren’t really … it wasn’t that taxing of a game I don’t think in our own end and I think that probably helped a little bit.

The Flyers took an early penalty that let the Sharks warm up with a power play, but it was not until that power play had expired that Matt Irwin put the Sharks on the board. Jakub Voracek made an ill-advised clearing attempt up the middle, which Irwin caught and threw right back at the net. Assists went to Chris Tierney and Tommy Wingels.

The lead only lasted a couple of minutes. The Sharks had spent a long shift in their own zone when they finally cleared the puck. Unfortunately, Flyers’ Nicklas Grossmann brought it back in more quickly than expected. The tired Sharks defenders could not stop a shot from the blue line that hit a couple of players on the way in. The goal went to Michael Raffl, with assists going to Grossmann and Voracek.

Grossmann went to the box at 15:06 for holding. The Sharks power play held the zone pretty well, and the Flyers had to thwart several shots from the blue line. With 21 seconds left on the power play, Joe Pavelski threw the puck at Steve Mason from behind the goal line. The puck went under Mason and then trickled into the net. The referee blew the whistle early, and a review in Toronto deemed the whistle to be “irrelevant to continuous play.” No one had touched Mason and he did not seem to realize the puck was underneath him. Assists went to Logan Couture and Brent Burns.

During the first period, the Sharks lost Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who was deemed questionable to return at the start of the second period. At the end of the first period, the shots were 15-7 Sharks. By the middle of the second period, the Sharks had added five shots to their tally, while the Flyers had added one.

The Flyers got their first power play at 9:45 of the second, when Matt Nieto went to the box for interference. The Flyers had one shot during the power play, and Logan Couture ate up some time with a short-handed breakaway in the second half of the power play. Mason stopped the back-hander without much trouble but the Sharks got an offensive zone faceoff out of that.

With six minutes left in the second, Philadelphia’s Ryan White hit Tommy Wingels from behind and a little high. Wingels was slow to get up and White went to the box for boarding. The Flyers again handled hard shots from the blue line, and made plays near the net very difficult for the Sharks. The Sharks did manage three shots but they could not extend their one goal lead.

The second period ended with the Sharks leading in shots 22-12 and in faceoffs 26-20.

The Flyers mustered some good offensive pressure to start the third period, but despite a couple of close calls they were still being outshot 2-1 in the first five minutes.

Scott Hannan went to the box at 7:00 for hooking. The Flyers started their power play with a couple of chances at an open net when Stalock was caught out of the blue paint. They missed and it looked like the Sharks’ penalty killers had dodged a bullet. When the Flyers next attacked, Claude Giroux tied the game. He caught a cross-ice pass from Voracek and beat Stalock from the faceoff circle. Ryan White and Brayden Schenn were both screening Stalock and it is surprising that the puck did not touch either of them. Assists went to Voracek and Michael Del Zotto.

A scrum stopped the action with 7:23 left, after Nick Cousins hit Scott Hannan, sending the Sharks defenseman into the boards. Cousins’ hit seemed to catch Hannan’s arm from behind, so that Hannan could not protect himself as he might have. He went face-first into the glass. Hannan left the game and Oliver Lauridsen went to the box. The penalty was a result of the scrum, not the hit. Lauridsen then went to the dressing room, as did John Scott, both with ten minute misconducts.

At 15:43, Joe Thornton was called for tripping Jakub Voracek. The hit could have been called kneeing, as the players connected knee to knee when Voracek skated past Thornton at the Flyers’ blue line. Though they were missing Thornton and two defensemen now, the Sharks killed the penalty off.

Each team had good chances in the final minute. The Flyers’ Voracek gave the Sharks a scare when he skated into the zone and evaded three defending Sharks. At the last moment, Matt Irwin knocked the puck away from him and sent it to Matt Nieto, who took it the other way. Chris Tierney and Nieto gave the Flyers some grief that ended with Justin Braun getting a shot that just went wide of the net. With that, regulation time expired.

The Sharks started overtime well, with a lot of offensive zone time for defensemen. Braun, Dillon and Irwin all spent some time below the faceoff circle, supporting the forwards. It was in the Sharks’ zone, however, that Matt Irwin took a hit from Brayden Schenn and put the Sharks on the power play. The power play looked very good, and the Flyers had a tough time trying to clear the puck. At one point, Brent Burns seemed to be everywhere on the blue line, keeping a couple of pucks in that looked bound to get out. The Flyers did finally get the puck out just past the minute mark of the power play, but the Sharks were back in quickly. The Flyers had to work very hard for that kill but they got it.

The Sharks had a couple more chances and near misses but time expired before anyone could score.

Jakub Voracek shot first for the Flyers and scored with a late shot from almost at the goal line. Logan Couture shot next but hit the post.

Claude Giroux shot second for the Flyers but Stalock caught his slapshot. Joe Pavelksi shot next but his shot went off of Mason’s skate.

Matt Read tried some misdirection followed by a shot through the five hole but Stalock was not fooled. Melker Karlsson followed with some stick handling and a shot to the top right corner. He tied it up.

Sean Couturier shot next but Stalock stopped his backhand shot. Patrick Marleau shot low but Mason stopped him.

Vincent LeCavalier lost the puck before getting a shot off. Brent Burns went next for the Sharks. Skating in at a moderate pace, he faked to the right then shot backhand into the top left corner for the win.

The Sharks led the game in faceoff wins 38-35. Joe Pavelski led the Sharks with seven shots, and Logan Couture came in second with six. John Scott and Tomas Hertl led with three hits each. Brent Burns led with four blocked shots. Burns also led the Sharks in ice time with 27:33.

Claude Giroux led the Flyers with three shots. Zac Rinaldo led his team with eight hits. Nick Schultz and Chris Vandevelde led their team with four blocked shots each. Michael Del Zotto led the Flyers in ice time with 30:18.

The Sharks next play at 4:30 PT on Sunday against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

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