Instant Replay: Flyers 5, Sharks 2

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Instant Replay: Flyers 5, Sharks 2

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The last extended road trip of the season ended for the Flyers on Monday night with them picking up a crucial two points on the second-best team in the Pacific Division.

A three-goal outburst saw the Flyers stun the Sharks, 5-2 at SAP Center, giving Craig Berube’s club a 2-1 record (four points) on their three-game, six-day West Coast trip.

It was the Flyers' first victory in Northern California since Nov. 5, 1999, back in the Lindros Era.

Trailing 2-1 when the third period began, the Flyers scored three times on goalie Antti Niemi in 2:45 to chase him for backup Alex Stalock.

The third-period comeback victory was the Flyers' 10th such win this season, establishing a new franchise record.

The Flyers had a very strong second period against Niemi and simply could not find the net, even though they led in shots at intermission, 19-13.

When the third period began, however, they made the most of their chances. First, Matt Read scored off right wing at 1:11 to tie the game at 2-2.

Then rookie Michael Raffl buried a rebound off an Erik Gustafsson point shot to give the Flyers their first lead since the opening period at 2:29.

Sixteen seconds later, Claude Giroux ripped one from the left circle for his 18th goal, making it 4-2. That’s when Sharks coach Todd McLellan yanked Niemi.

San Jose was 26-1-2 when leading after two periods until this game.

Because Columbus defeated Anaheim, 4-2, the Flyers remained fourth in the Metropolitan Division.

Both teams have 62 points, but the Blue Jackets have played one less game (56).

Injuries
Tyler Kennedy took warmups for San Jose and was expected to play, but missed his third game with a lower-body injury.

Win streaks
San Jose had a nine-game win streak against the Flyers coming into the game.

California gold
The Flyers struck it rich early with a power-play goal at 4:23 of the first period. Mark Streit sent a blistering point shot down the center of the ice. It happened so fast, Niemi never flinched a muscle, never saw the shot. Wayne Simmonds was originally credited with a tip, but he went to officials and told them to review it because he didn’t think he touched it. He was right. Streit had gone 12 games without a goal.

Penalties
Nick Grossmann’s interference call gave the Sharks a power play almost immediately after the Flyers scored. Despite the Flyers’ PK units clearing the puck three times, Matt Nieto blew past Luke Schenn down the line and banged home a hard-timing pass from Tommy Wingels at 7:33 to tie it, 1-1.

Speed
Berube talked at the morning skate about San Jose’s speed and it was a factor, too. Nieto came into the game with four goals but scored his second at 12:32 of the first period to give the Sharks their first lead, 2-1. He eluded Grossmann and Braydon Coburn in the slot on an over-commitment, got a pass from Brent Burns, put on two moves and slid it under Steve Mason. No Flyer D-man could handle his quickness. The Flyers' defense is very slow when moving laterally and that’s what the Sharks did to them.

Scoring chances
The Flyers had some very good chances in the first period by Scott Hartnell, Giroux and Matt Read but Niemi came up strong with 11 saves. Hartnell had a terrific rebound opportunity late in the second period, but had to rush his shot from a tough angle before Niemi could get back and ended up shooting wide.

Open net
Gustafsson wishes he had that one back after blowing an open net in the final five minutes of the second period off the rush from the left circle.

Ice breaker
Jakub Voracek’s goal late in the game was his first in eight games. He has 15 goals.

G-man
Giroux had his third game with three or more points in his career.

Special teams
The Flyers were 1 for 2 on the power play. The Sharks were 1 for 5.

Milestone
Joe Thornton’s assist on Nieto’s second goal was his 550th as a Shark.

Faceoffs
Through two periods, the Sharks won 56 percent of the draws.

Scratches
Defenseman Kimmo Timonen (left foot); Forward Jay Rosehill and defenseman Hal Gill were healthy scratches. Gill has sat 21 consecutive games.

Best of NHL: Red Wings' 25-year playoff streak snapped in loss

Best of NHL: Red Wings' 25-year playoff streak snapped in loss

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Lee Stempniak and Joakim Nordstrom scored about five minutes apart in the first period, and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 Tuesday night in the teams' second meeting in two nights.

Jordan Staal and Elias Lindholm also scored for Carolina and Cam Ward stopped 21 shots. The Hurricanes have earned a point in 12 straight games (8-0-4) to move four points out of the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot.

The Red Wings beat the Hurricanes on Monday in a makeup game rescheduled from Dec. 19 when a Freon leak at PNC Arena made for unplayable ice. Tuesday's contest was regularly scheduled.

The postponement resulted in three games in the three days for the Red Wings. They won the first two but visibly struggled with their energy in the finale to snap a four-game point streak.

Tomas Nosek scored his first NHL goal and Jimmy Howard made 28 saves for Detroit (see full recap).

Rask backstops Bruins to important win over Predators
BOSTON -- Tuukka Rask made 24 saves in his return from a one-game absence and the Boston Bruins beat the Nashville Predators 4-1 on Tuesday night, boosting their playoff chances.

Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Noel Acciari and David Backes scored for the Bruins, who moved three points ahead of idle Tampa Bay for the second Eastern Conference wild card with six games remaining. Boston began the night a point behind Toronto for third place in the Atlantic Division.

Rask was sidelined with a lower-body injury for Boston's 2-1 road win against the New York Islanders on Saturday.

Bergeron's goal was his 18th of the season, and Krejci got his 22nd. Acciari scored his first career goal in 43 NHL games, Backes netted his 17th of the season and Zdeno Chara earned his 600th NHL point with an assist on Boston's first goal (see full recap).

Matthews sets rookie scoring mark in Leafs' win
TORONTO -- Auston Matthews broke Wendel Clark's 31-year-old franchise rookie record with his 35th goal of the season, and the Toronto Maple Leafs earned a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

The victory kept Toronto (87 points) one point up on the Boston Bruins (86) for the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and four up on the Tampa Bay Lightning (83).

Curtis McElhinney made 25 saves to earn the win for the Leafs. Leo Komarov and Zach Hyman also scored for Toronto.

James Reimer allowed two goals on 14 shots for Florida before he was knocked from the game with an injury and replaced by Reto Berra, who made 10 saves. Reilly Smith and Jaromir Jagr scored for the Panthers (see full recap).

Oshie's OT goal for Caps beats Wild after Ovi hat trick
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- T.J. Oshie scored his second goal of the game 1:42 into overtime to bookend Alex Ovechkin's hat trick, Braden Holtby earned his 40th win and the Washington Capitals beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 on Tuesday night for their fifth straight victory.

After Eric Staal's goal for the Wild tied the game with 26.6 seconds left in regulation, Oshie took a pass in the left circle from Marcus Johansson and beat struggling Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk with a wrist shot. Johansson had four assists.

Martin Hanzal and Jason Pominville had a goal and an assist apiece, but the Wild lost for the eighth time in nine games and fell to 3-11-1 in March after forward Zach Parise exited early with an injury (see full recap).

Flyers win game over Senators, but fail to gain ground in wild-card race

Flyers win game over Senators, but fail to gain ground in wild-card race

BOX SCORE

It was a special night as 24-year-old Jordan Weal hoisted his team upon his young shoulders, saving the Flyers in regulation and then winning for them in the shootout.
 
Yet in the end, even though the Flyers defeated Ottawa 3-2, they still lost (see Instant Replay).
 
Lost where it counts most -- in the wild-card standings.
 
Boston's 4-1 win over Nashville kept the Flyers six points behind in the wild card, but more significantly, reduced the Flyers' tragic number to six.
 
Six Bruins points or six points lost by the Flyers moving forward will eliminate Dave Hakstol's club from the playoffs.
 
"The last five or six games, we've been playing pretty good," Wayne Simmonds said. "After I looked up and saw Boston win, it sucks."
 
These last four games -- including the loss to Columbus -- have seen the kind of consistency the Flyers have craved and not gotten enough of during the second half of the season.
 
Had they been playing this type of sound, focused hockey in late January through February, they'd own a playoff spot right now.
 
"Even before that, we were losing games we should have been winning," Michael Del Zotto said. "That's the beauty of the game: there's no easy games.
 
"Consistency is the biggest factor. The teams at the top of the standings have been consistent all year long … not stringing three or four losses in a row, which is tough to come back on, especially this year with our division playing so well."
 
These days, one Flyer playing with every-night consistency is Weal, the kid the LA Kings sent to the Flyers as part of the Vinny Lecavalier deal.
 
Ottawa's Kyle Turris broke a 1-1 tie with 7:25 left on a goal that Steve Mason never saw through a thick screen. It was a deflating moment given how hard the Flyers worked defensively.
 
Two minutes later, Sens goalie Craig Anderson tried to clear the puck from behind the net and Weal intercepted, then scored on empty net to tie, 2-2.
 
Ottawa challenged that Simmonds interfered at the net and lost. Simmonds skated to the post and effectively prevented Anderson from getting there in time.
 
"It's my ice. I got there before him. It doesn't matter so long as I'm not in the blue paint," Simmonds said. "He touched me. It's my ice. He ran into the back of me."
 
That set up overtime and a bunch of missed opportunities before Weal beat Anderson once more during the shootout to clinch it. He's 2 for 2 here in shootouts.
 
Weal has six goals in 18 games. He is playing aggressively above his 5-foot-8 or so height. He seems to have earned his keep for next season as a regular and not a call-up, which he's been since early February.
 
Asked if he felt he's cemented his position as a Flyer, Weal replied, "Not at all. No, this is one of the best leagues in the world. Nothing is given to you here. You've got to keep working all the time, year to year. Your position is never guaranteed."
 
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol likes what he has seen, but won't talk about Weal's future.
 
"He's earned everything he's got and continues to do that on a daily basis," Hakstol said. "I wouldn't say he's brought a different vibe or energy. He's brought energy in his own way and has been a good two-way player. He's scored some big goals for us. He's a reliable player, who generates and creates offensively."
 
Weal's play on Valterri Filppula's line with Simmonds has had a trickle-down effect on the lineup, creating better matchups for the Flyers. He's taken pressure off Claude Giroux's line, and particularly, Sean Couturier's unit with Dale Weise and Brayden Schenn.
 
"They've been good together," Hakstol said of the Filppula unit. "Simmonds is playing some of his best hockey of the year, in terms of a power forward game.
 
"He's very tough to handle down low and that's adding an element for Fil and Wealer there. They seem to have chemistry here in the very short amount of time they've been together."
 
It's something for Flyer fans to look forward to next season. No one is talking about next season yet, but deep down inside, the players realize some of them need to make lasting impressions with the season running out on them.
 
The consistency in effort the Flyers have shown recently is exactly what they should have shown when it counted most -- right after the All-Star break.
 
"Yeah, you know we're competing hard," young Travis Konecny said. "We're not going to quit until the end of the season. That's the way we are. It's the character of our team. It's the things we've shown all year.
 
"Our games may not show it at times, our scores, but I think each and every night we always compete, we always battle. I think things are starting to happen for us. Pucks are starting to bounce the right ways for us and we're getting on the score sheet and it's helping us a lot."
 
What's not helping is all those teams ahead of them, especially Boston, are posting wins. Every two points Boston gets puts another dagger in the Flyers' side.
 
"Watching what other teams are doing is more stressful," Mason said. "Teams are going to win, teams are going to lose. But we obviously have to win and that's really all that matters."