Flyers rally past Sharks to cap California trip

Flyers rally past Sharks to cap California trip
February 4, 2014, 2:15 am
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The Flyers recorded a 5-2 win over the Sharks to finish their three-game California trip two victories. (AP)

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- There was a common thread to the Flyers' three-game road trip to the West Coast.

They skated with all three clubs -- Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose. They were competitive in the one-on-one battles. And they had solid goaltending from Steve Mason.

All of that was evident in Monday’s 5-2 Flyers' victory over the Sharks that gave them four points in three games, a terrific road trip for Craig Berube’s club.

“A good trip,” Berube said. “We battled hard against all three teams. We got results.”

It was the Flyers first win here since Nov. 5, 1999, snapping a 13-game winless streak. Berube was a player on that Eric Lindros-led team back then.

“Feels pretty good,” Berube said. “I might have scored [in that one].”

He didn’t.

But the Flyers did in this one.

They trailed 2-1 going into the third period and you could feel they were on the upswing against goalie Antti Niemi, barely missing on two great scoring chances in the middle period.

When the final period began, the Flyers scored three goals over a 2:45 span to blow it open at 4-2.

It was a franchise-record 10th third-period comeback win for the Flyers this season, breaking their previous record of nine set in 1996-97.

“We stayed calm. It was awesome,” Wayne Simmonds said. “We knew we had ‘em. We were playing great. Tonight was one of our best games of the year, start to finish. Everyone was going, lines one through four.

“Our defensemen were going, Mase [Mason] played great. The third period we had a little outburst there, but that was because we stuck with the program.”

Matt Read, Michael Raffl and Claude Giroux scored quickly to open the period and chase Niemi from the game for backup Alex Stalock.

Raffl’s goal became the game-winner on a rebound in the slot off Erik Gustafsson’s point shot.

“This is a really good hockey team and to come back in the third period is huge for us,” Raffl said. “We played well the whole game.

“Sooner or later the goals were going to come. We kept putting pucks on the net. It worked out for us.”

Giroux posted his third multi-point effort in the last four games and fifth in the last nine games.

He had two goals and three assists for five points in the last two games (including Los Angeles) of the trip -- both Flyer wins.

“This was our best game,” said Giroux, who tied Simmonds with 18 goals as the club leaders. “We were down 2-1 pretty much the whole game, but we liked the way we played.

“We had chances and when we had them in the third, it went in. Our defense was coming in and we had chances to score. This was one of our best games that our defense played.

“When they broke out of the zone, going D to D, they were skating and it made our job easier. We weren’t spending time in our zone. We were breaking out as five guys.”

Indeed, Gustafsson and Luke Schenn -- who were a defensive pair on the trip -- were a combined plus-6. Mark Streit had a key goal early on to jump start the Flyers, as well.

“I didn't really see how it went in,” Streit said of his hard laser from the point that gave them a 1-0 first-period lead. “Simmer made a great screen in front and that definitely made a difference.

“Everything is so tight, and it was three tough games. We won two. We can be pretty happy with ourselves. Gives us a lot of confidence for the next two games before the Olympic break.

“Defensively, we have been playing pretty well. We close faster on guys in the corner and were getting help from second and third guys. And we were able to break the puck out, which makes a huge difference.

“We got to skate, got to skate. As long as we’re skating, we’re OK. Sometimes we were too passive in the past. We didn’t initiate games and we did that tonight.”