SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Philadelphia Flyers used a third-period onslaught to cap a successful trip through the treacherous California triangle.
Matt Read, Michael Raffl and Claude Giroux scored in a span of 2:45 early in the third to erase a one-goal deficit and lead the Flyers past San Jose 5-2 on Monday night for their first win over the Sharks since 2000.
“That was a great overall trip,” goalie Steve Mason said. “Even the game in Anaheim, I thought we played better than the score indicated. Being able to go into L.A. and get a big win there, and then overall tonight I thought was just a great game from start to finish. We weren’t rewarded with the goals early on, but the guys stuck with it. These are the type of victories that feel good.”
With wins in Los Angeles and San Jose following a well-played loss in Anaheim, the Flyers return home one point behind the second-place New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division with two games left before the Olympic break.
“One of the players in L.A. referred to it as the Bermuda triangle, coming into California,” forward Wayne Simmonds said. “I think we played pretty well, we had pretty good compete level all three games and I think four points out of the six is pretty nice. We’ll take that and go back home.”
Mark Streit and Jacob Voracek also scored and Mason made 20 saves for the Flyers, who had 11 losses and two ties in the series since beating the Sharks on Dec. 21, 2000.
Sharks rookie Matt Nieto scored twice in the first period for his first career multigoal game, but that lead was erased in a flash early in the third period when Antti Niemi was sent to the bench as San Jose lost for the fourth time in five games.
“When you get outworked and get outnumbered all over the rink, you’re going to lose,” coach Todd McLellan said. “It’s as simple as that. They worked harder than we were in all facets of the game—the goaltender, the blue line, 5-on-5, special teams. They were just the better team. It’s disappointing.”
The Sharks have just four goals in those five games but were in position to win before the Flyers took advantage of shaky goaltending by Niemi and lacklustre overall play from San Jose to set a franchise record with their 10th win of the season when trailing in the third period.
Read started the barrage when his shot on the rush deflected off defenceman Matt Irwin’s stick to tie the game 1:11 into the third, finally giving the Flyers the tying goal after they were unable to score in a dominant second period.
“We came into the locker room after the second and said, ‘Keep playing the same way and things will go our way,'” Read said. “We looked for a bounce to get a goal. The first couple minutes of the third period we got a goal and were on our toes and got the momentum.”
The Flyers took the lead just 1:18 later when Niemi gave up a big rebound on Erik Gustafsson’s point shot that went right to Raffl in the slot.
A neutral-ice turnover by Irwin led to Giroux’s 18th goal on a shot that deflected off Niemi’s glove, stunning the home crowd 1:27 after Philadelphia took the lead.
Giroux also set up Voracek’s late goal that sealed the win, finishing the game with a goal and two assists. San Jose matched a season worst by allowing four goals in the third period.
“They came at us hard, they made us turn the puck over,” Irwin said. “A lot of it was what they did well. At the same time, that’s unacceptable.”
The teams traded power-play goals early in the first period, with Streit scoring on a point shot through a screen by Simmonds after Nieto was called for hooking in the offensive zone.
Nieto more than made up for his transgression the rest of the period. With Nicklas Grossmann in the box for hooking, Irwin shot the puck into the corner from his own blue line. Tommy Wingels raced to the puck to negate an icing call and sent a perfect feed to Nieto in front of the net for the deflection on his first career power-play goal.
Nieto was the recipient of another nice pass later in the period, when Brent Burns set him up with a blind, backhand pass from the corner that led to his second goal. That gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead that lasted until the third.
NOTES: Flyers D Kimmo Timonen was scratched for the second straight game with a foot injury. … The Sharks snapped an 0-for-16 slump on the power play with Nieto’s first goal.