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.

NHL Notes: Predators' P.K. Subban rides whirlwind to Stanley Cup Final

NHL Notes: Predators' P.K. Subban rides whirlwind to Stanley Cup Final

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It has been an extraordinary 11 months for P.K. Subban.

The defenseman moved from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference. Left his native Canada to live in the American South. Blended in with new teammates, created a new home and learned a new system of money, too.

Oh, and along the way the former star for the Montreal Canadiens played a key role in Nashville's stirring run to the Stanley Cup Final.

The best way to sum up Subban's approach? C'est la vie.

"I just tried to have the right attitude when change comes my way," Subban said. "I think when you have an open mind, an open mind is like a gold mine. You just have an open mind, you can only go up from there regardless of what comes your way and just always try to approach things in a positive way."

The Canadiens and Predators shocked the NHL last June 29 when Nashville swapped captain Shea Weber for Subban in a rare one-for-one trade of All-Star defensemen. Adding Subban's offensive skills immediately made the Predators a popular pick to be right where they are now as the Western Conference champions.

The stylish Subban has as much flair on the ice with his goal celebrations as off with his hats and stylish suits. The Predators and their fans have embraced all of it.

"When it happened, I came in here with the right attitude and just wanted to be a part of this team and do whatever I can do to help a team win," Subban said (see full story).

Penguins: Team rides maturity, resilience back to Cup Final
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz stood shoulder to shoulder at center ice as midnight approached, crowd on its feet, Prince of Wales Trophy in hand. Another shot at the Stanley Cup in the offing.

On the surface, it could have been a scene ripped from 2008 when the longtime Pittsburgh Penguin teammates earned their first crack at a championship together, the one that was supposed to be the launching pad for a dynasty.

A closer look at the weary, grateful smiles told a different story.

This team has learned over the last decade that nothing can be taken for granted. Not their individual greatness or postseason success, even for one of the NHL's marquee franchises. Not the cohesion it takes to survive the crucible of the most draining championship chase in professional team sports or the mental toughness (along with a dash of luck) needed to stay on top once you get there.

So Crosby paused in the giddy aftermath of Pittsburgh's 3-2 victory over Ottawa in Game 7 of the helter-skelter Eastern Conference finals to do something the two-time Hart Trophy winner almost never does. He took stock of the moment, aware of how fleeting they can be.

"Every series you look at, the margin for error is so slim," Crosby said. "We've just continued to find ways and different guys have stepped up. We trust in that and we believe in that and whoever has come in the lineup has done a great job. That builds confidence. We've done it different ways, which is probably our biggest strength" (see full story).

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Kunitz beat Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 28 shots on his 23rd birthday.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. They will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn't get a handle on Kunitz's shot from just outside the left circle. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh -- where they lost 7-0 loss in Game 5 on Sunday -- by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory, putting both teams at odds with history.

Ottawa came in 0-for-25 years in winner-take-all games, while the Penguins were 0-7 in Game 7s at home in series in which they also dropped Game 6.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told his resilient team to not get caught up in the big picture but instead focus on the small ones, a recipe that carried the Senators throughout a bumpy transition under their first-year head coach to the brink of the franchise's second Cup appearance.

The Penguins, trying to become the first defending champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009, came in confident they would advance if they could replicate their dominant Game 6, when they were undone only by Anderson's brilliance.

Pittsburgh has been nearly unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, going 12-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs. He encouraged his team to "just play," code for fighting through Ottawa's neutral zone-clogging style and the bumping, grabbing and pulling that comes along with it.

A chance to play for their sport's ultimate prize on the line, the sheets of open ice the Penguins found so easily in Games 4-6 closed up. For most of the first 30 minutes, loose pucks hopped over sticks to spoil some scoring opportunities while Anderson and Murray gobbled up the rest.

Kunitz, relegated to the fourth line since returning from injury in the second round, picked up his first postseason goal in a calendar year when he completed a two-on-one with Conor Sheary -- a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 -- by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period.

The momentum lasted all of 20 seconds. Ottawa responded immediately with Stone -- who stretched his left skate to stay onside -- fired a wrist shot that handcuffed Murray.

Pittsburgh kept coming. Schultz, returning after missing four games with an upper-body injury, zipped a shot from the point through Kunitz's screen and into the net with 8:16 left in the third.

Once again, the Penguins could not hold the lead. Dzingel set up at the right post and banged home a rebound off Erik Karlsson's shot that hit the left post and caromed off Murray's back right to Dzingel's stick.

Notes
The home team is 21-20 in overtime Game 7s in NHL playoff history. ... Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist skated during warmups, but was held out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Karlsson had 16 assists in the playoffs to set a team record. ... The Penguins are 10-7 in Game 7s. ... It was the fifth one-goal game of the series.