PHILADELPHIA - The San Jose Sharks went the distance—and a split-second more—to beat the Philadelphia Flyers.
Rookie Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe scored shootout goals to give San Jose a 5-4 victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday night after the Sharks overcame a three-goal deficit and an apparent Flyers goal in the final second of overtime. The Sharks won for the first time this season when trailing after two periods.
"We said, 'Why not us?' Why don't we come back sometimes?" Sharks goalie Antero Niittymaki said. "Three goals down in this building, that's a pretty good comeback."
The Flyers appeared to win it in overtime, but Mike Richards' goal was waved off after a reply showed time expired an instant before the puck crossed the line. In the second period, the Sharks had a goal waved off when officials determined the puck was kicked in by John McCarthy.
"I heard the horn, but it's always a little late," Niittymaki said about Richards' late shot that deflected off a defenceman's skate. "I broke my stick. I thought it was a goal. It was once of those nights where the puck bounces everywhere. I'm happy we won, but the puck really wasn't bouncing our way."
The Flyers lost for the first time when leading after two. Niittymaki denied Danny Briere and Claude Giroux in the shootout to send San Jose to its second straight triumph.
"We found a way to win and we'll take it," San Jose head coach Todd McLellan said. "It's a great thing for us. I look at the last two games, we didn't have good starts, but we found a way to come back and win."
Jason Demers, Couture and Joe Pavelski beat Sergei Bobrovsky in a four-minute span in the third to tie it.
Demers began the spree with 12:27 left with a wrist shot that ended a 31-game goal drought. Couture poked in a rebound 3:18 later off a shot from Clowe, and Pavelski tied it on a power play with 8:32 left, beating Bobrovsky with a wrist shot, after the Sharks won a faceoff.
"We've got to stay out of the box," Flyers defenceman Chris Pronger said. "We've got to keep skating. We had full control of the game. We were dominating every aspect. We got lackadaisical and started letting them, started playing a little river hockey, and they've got players that can put the puck in the net."
Philadelphia had a flurry of its own in the second period against former Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki, with Claude Giroux, Ville Leino and Nikolay Zherdev scoring in a 4:44 span to make it 3-1.
Giroux started that run by knocking in a rebound when a shot by Braydon Coburn was deflected by Jeff Carter. Niittymaki couldn't cover the puck, and Giroux tapped it in for his 100th career point.
Leino's spinning wrist shot from the faceoff circle hit off the far post and bounced in. Zherdev scored 45 seconds later, taking Matt Carle's pass and flipping it under Niittymaki's leg.
San Jose appeared to score 16 seconds later, when Scott Nichol took a wraparound shot, and the puck deflected off McCarthy's skate and in. The goal was disallowed after replay officials determined McCarthy kicked the puck.
"I understand the rule. I don't understand why it was disallowed," McLellan said. "I don't see it being a distinct kicking motion. I see a guy going to the net, stopping and the puck going off his foot. I don't know if he could have avoided the play, never mind kick it into the net."
Scott Hartnell also scored his first goal in 11 games for Philadelphia, to make the score 4-1.
Clowe opened the scoring on a deflection with five seconds left in the first period.
"To battle back like that shows a lot of character," Clowe said. "We had good composure after the second. The biggest thing was getting better around the net. When I saw (Richards') goal go in, I was shaking my head. But I had a feeling that once they got called back it was our night. We were going to finish it off. The gods were with us tonight."
NOTES: Carter's assist on Giroux's goal was his 300th career point. ... Niittymaki started in place of Antti Niemi, the goalie who led Chicago past Philadelphia last year in the Stanley Cup Finals. ... The Sharks haven't lost to the Flyers since Dec. 21, 2000, a 4-3 win in Philadelphia. Since then, they had gone 7-0-2-2 in 11 meetings. ... The Flyers honoured Hall of Fame goalie Bernie Parent during a pre-game ceremony, presenting him with his No. 1 banner that hung in the rafters of the old Philadelphia Spectrum.