Photos by Aris Bernales/SFBay
SAP CENTER — With a thrilling Saturday night win under their belts and a visiting team that hadn’t won at the Tank since Nov. 1999, the odds appeared to be in the Sharks favor headed into Monday’s contest with the Philadelphia Flyers.
But San Jose’s offense couldn’t keep the rally going against Philly netminder Steve Mason (20 saves), and three goals for the visitors in a span of 2:45 was all it took to put Team Teal in a hole they couldn’t dig out of.
Despite the Sharks holding a one-goal lead for the majority of the game, the Flyers outplayed them to pull out an upsetting 5-2 win in what was possibly the worst Sharks performance of all season.
Even after taking the lead early on, the Sharks didn’t play well, head coach Todd McLellan explained after the game:
“I thought they were harder than we were in all facets of the game. The goaltender, the blueline, five on five, special teams. They were just the better team.”
McLellan wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Dan Boyle told the media:
“It was disappointing. When we are up after one we still did not think we were playing the way we needed to play … Obviously we didn’t play hard enough to get it done.”
Philadelphia got on the board in the opening period on their first power play attempt of the evening. With Matt Nieto in the penalty box for hooking, Mark Streit’s slap shot through traffic was tipped past Antti Niemi (19 saves) by Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds got credit for the goal as the Flyers took a 1-0 lead.
Nieto avenged the goal later in the period one the Sharks first power play. Tommy Wingels made a pass up the middle and Nieto converted up in the crease to beat Mason. Matt Irwin also notched an assist as San Jose tied the game up 1-1.
Nieto then gave the Sharks the lead before the first period was over. Brent Burns’ backhanded pass set up No. 83 for a wrist shot past Mason’s glove side, giving the Sharks their only lead for the night at 2-1. Joe Thornton also tallied a point, his 550th career NHL assist.
San Jose managed to maintain the one goal lead through the second period. But even with the lead headed into the final intermission, Thornton wasn’t impressed with the team’s performance:
“I didn’t think we played well at all tonight to be honest with you. I thought we were lucky to be up 2-1 going into the third period. They got a couple of strange ones and took the game over after that.”
After a scoreless second frame, Philadelphia’s Matt Read found the equalizer with a wrist shot to beat Niemi and tie the game back up 2-2.
Michael Raffl and Claude Giroux then notched two goals shortly thereafter to put the Flyers up 4-2.
The three goals in less than three minutes would mark the end for Niemi, and Alex Stalock took over between the pipes for San Jose.
Jakub Voracek put the puck past the Sharks’ backup late in the third period to sealing the Sharks’ 5-2 fate.
The Sharks will have to try to save face on Wednesday, February 5 as they host the Dallas Stars in their second-to-last tilt before the Olympic break. Puck drop for the game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Matt Nieto had the first multi-goal game of his NHL career, scoring his fifth and sixth goals of the season in the first period … Joe Thornton played his 650th game in a Sharks uniform.