Flyers sink Sharks with three-goal flurry

The Sharks' Antti Niemi falls back in front of the Flyers' Steve Downie during the second period. (George Nikitin/AP)
The Sharks' Antti Niemi falls back in front of the Flyers' Steve Downie during the second period. (George Nikitin/AP)
Posted: February 05, 2014

SAN JOSE, Calif. - The Flyers, to paraphrase Dionne Warwick, found their way to San Jose on Monday night.

And found a way to beat the Sharks.

Finally.

Matt Read, Michael Raffl and Claude Giroux (three points) scored goals in the first 3 minutes, 56 seconds of the third period, enabling the Flyers to overcome a 2-1 deficit and jolt San Jose, 5-2, at the SAP Center.

“We’re going back home with a little more confidence,” said Giroux after the Flyers finished an admirable 2-1 California trip against three elite teams. "We’re competing better and playing more as a team. When we work hard and have fun doing it, that’s when we play our best.”

The victory ended the Flyers’ nine-game losing streak against the Sharks since 2000, and it was their first win in San Jose since 1999 (when coach Craig Berube was a Flyers player), ending a 6-0-1 drought.

Raffl pounced on a rebound of Erik Gustafsson’s shot and scored with 17:31 left to give the Flyers the lead for good, 3-2.

The three goals early in the third period were scored in a 2:45 span, and Jake Voracek converted Giroux’s slick pass to give the Flyers a 5-2 lead with 2:16 to go. Giroux had his third game with three or more points this season.

The Flyers set a franchise record by recording their 10th win in a game in which they trailed in the third period this season.

San Jose suffered just its fourth regulation loss this season at home, where it is 20-4-3.

The Flyers began the trip with a highly competitive 5-3 loss in Anaheim, but rebounded to defeat Los Angeles, 2-0, and the Sharks.

“I think someone - one of their reporters in L.A. - referred to it as a Bermuda Triangle when you come into California,” said winger Wayne Simmonds, a former King. “But I think we played pretty well; we had a pretty high compete level in all three games. Four points out of the six is pretty nice.”

“It’s positive reinforcement,” Read said. “We go home and have two more games before the (Olympic) break, and I think in our mindset, we had to come back from this road trip over .500, which we did. We played great hockey in all three games, and now we just have to go home and take care of business.”

The Flyers scored two goals in the first 3:56 of the third period to chase goalie Antti Niemi and take a stunning 4-2 lead - against a team that had been 26-1-2 when it took a lead into the third period.

Read tied the game with a floater from the right circle that deflected off defenseman Matt Irwin and fooled Niemi with 18:49 left in the third period.

Just 1:18 later, Raffl knocked in a juicy rebound to put the Flyers ahead, 3-2. Giroux made it 4-2 when he beat Niemi from the left side about 1∏ minutes later.

Exit Niemi, the man who helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup against the Flyers in 2010 and a player who had the second-most wins (28) in the NHL this season before Monday.

The Flyers played three strong periods and outshot the Sharks, 28-22. With the exception of a defensive breakdown that led to San Jose’s second goal, the Flyers played almost a mistake-free game in front of goalie Steve Mason.

“Our last two games, I thought we played very well defensively,” Read said. “Tonight, I don’t think they had too many Grade-A scoring chances. If they were in our zone, pucks were along the wall or in the corners, and that’s where we want them. I think we’ve learned how to play defensively, and that’s how you win hockey games.”

“Our defense was skating, winning battles and giving us the puck,” Giroux said.

While on a power play 4:23 into the game, Mark Streit fired a one-time point drive past Niemi as Simmonds set up a screen in front. It was Streit’s seventh goal, and it gave the Flyers at least one power-play goal in seven straight games.

San Jose’s Matt Nieto scored a power-play goal 3:10 later, redirecting a pass from Tommy Wingels. About five minutes after that goal, Nieto scored again, getting free from Giroux and making a pretty move on Mason. Nieto took a corner pass from Brent Burns as Flyers defensemen Braydon Coburn and Nick Grossmann both got caught on the right side.

No matter. The Flyers swarmed the net early in the final period, scored four unanswered goals in the stanza, and produced arguably their most impressive victory of the season.


scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

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