A Bad Philadelphia Story- The San Jose Sharks will look back on this game as a missed opportunity even though they were flat for most of the contest. Scoring three goals in the first 3:56 of the third period, the Philadelphia Flyers beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2 before another sold out house at the Shark Tank. Matt Nieto’s two goals in the first period looked as if they were going to lift Team Teal in building on their win over Chicago Saturday night. As it turned out, they were the only two things that prevented a shut out for Flyers goalie Steve Mason who made 20 saves. Antti Niemi meanwhile after making 18 saves on 19 Flyers shots through the first two periods Monday night inexplicably just fell apart in the net early in the third period as he was tagged for three goals on four shots before being pulled for Alex Stalock. The loss was only the fourth one in regulation at home for the Sharks in 27 home dates, and also the fourth loss for the Sharks in their last five games overall. The consequences of the defeat were missed opportunities to gain more ground on both Anaheim and the LA Kings who also lost their games Monday night in regulation. Meanwhile for the Flyers the victory gave them two victories out of three games on their California road trip, and their first win at the Shark Tank since the 1999-2000 season. The Sharks now need to regroup and get ready for another tough opponent in the Dallas Stars Wednesday night.
Nieto’s Night- The only bright spot for the Sharks when this contest was done was Matt Nieto who scored twice in the first period. Nieto’s first goal came on a power play when he took a feed pass from Tommy Wingles right in front of the Flyers net and was able to tip the puck past Mason. This tied the game at 1-1 after the Flyers had taken the early lead on a Wayne Simmonds power play goal. Nieto’s second score of the evening was again a situation where he was positioned to be at the right place at the right time. This time it was Brent Burns who fed Nieto, who in turn was able to push in the puck past Mason who had committed to his left. The Sharks had a 2-1 lead and later would get a chance for more on a power play opportunity late in the opening period. The Sharks got some good looks on the net but could not get anymore pucks past Mason before the period had expired. The Sharks would have a 45 second carry over of the man advantage going into the second period but just could not generate any type of scoring chance.
Flyers Control Final 40- The second period and the final period were dominated by a Flyers team that just looked like the far hungrier team. Neither team scored in the middle frame however the Flyers had a great deal of quality scoring chances compared to the Sharks who would just manage five shots on goal. Although Niemi officially would face just seven shots on goal, a lot more pucks came his way that either just missed the net or sailed through the goal crease. The Flyers held the puck in the Sharks zone for over 75 percent of the period and seemed to be in complete control. The Flyers just like the Sharks a period earlier had a power play that would carry over into the next period. Unlike the Sharks, the Flyers were able to build off of the momentum that their power play had started and just took the Sharks apart in the early moments of the third period. Goals by Matt Read, Michael Raffl and Claude Giroux in a span of 2:25 would be the Sharks undoing for the evening. After Giroux’s goal put Philadelphia up by 4-2, Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan lifted Niemi in favor of Alex Stalock who would finish the game in-goal. The Sharks had two power plays in the third period but failed to generate any decent scoring chances with either one. The Flyers Jakub Voracek would add the game’s final goal with 2:16 remaining to eliminate whatever doubt about the outcome their could have been at that point. Overall, this was just one of those nights where the Sharks were beaten by a team that acted as if they had a lot more to play for, and followed through on it. With the Ducks and Kings also losing, though the Sharks lost no ground in the standings they also failed to gain ground in a situation where it was laid out perfectly for them.
Next Sharks Game- The Sharks move on to their next contest which is Wednesday Night (Feb. 5th) versus their long time rivals in the Dallas Stars at the Shark Tank. The puck drops at 7:30pm (PT). The game can be seen on CSN or heard on the Sharks Radio Network or NHL Game Center.
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