In a match-up of two teams trending in opposite directions, the streaking Sharks (22-12-1) took down the struggling Philadelphia Flyers (20-13-4) 2-0 with the help of stifling defense and backup goalie Aaron Dell’s excellent play.
The Sharks came into tonight’s match-up 7-1 in their last eight games including two shootout and overtime wins, while the Flyers have gone 1-5 and only scoring eight goals in their last six contests since an impressive 10 game win streak ended two weeks ago.
After dominating the early play and out shooting the Flyers 12-6 through the first 16:29 of the period Patrick Marleau and the ailing Sharks power play finally broke through against Flyers goalie Steve Mason. Just seconds prior to allowing the goal to Marleau, Mason and the Flyers took exception to a minor collision the goalie encountered with Joe Thornton that resulted in an injury timeout to allow the Philly trainers looked at Mason’s blocker-side wrist. After the ensuing face off Marc-Edouard Vlasic attacked Mason’s injured wrist and put a shot on his blocker that hit a screening Kevin Labanc and allowed Marleau to slide in for some easy mop up duty and put the bouncing puck over Mason’s shoulder. During the intermission per Jamie Baker Marleau said, “Banker (Labanc) was right in front of the goal, got a tip on it and it was just laying around, a little junk goal but we’ll take it.”
Before notching the game’s opening goal, the Sharks power play had gone an anemic — and anemic may be underselling it — 4-35 (11%) on their last 39 opportunities with a man advantage.
After sustaining the wrist injury in the collision with Thornton, Mason finished the first period but was replaced by Anthony Stolarz, who is fresh up from the AHL to replace an injured Michal Neuvirth. Stolarz stood tall in net for Philly staving off multiple scoring chances by the Sharks and posting a shutout in his first period of work. Aaron Dell followed suit and posted his second straight shut-out period, stopping a handful of Wayne Simmonds led scoring chances on the Flyers lone power play opportunity of the period. Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun also had a massive impact on Dell’s shutout effort as the pair allowed only two shots through the first two sessions to the Flyers top line of Michael Raffl, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.
The Sharks slowed the pace of play for the first 10 minutes of the third period, controlling the puck but never really pushing into the Flyers’ defense. The frustrated Philly attack pushed the pace of play and kept the puck in the Sharks zone for nearly five full minutes, and forcing Dell into some of his toughest work of the evening. The Flyers nearly tied the game on a Giroux shot that beat Dell’s glove but ricocheted loudly off the post and out of the zone.
San Jose responded by putting the game away on a beautiful feed from Joe Pavelski over to D-man Justin Braun who ripped a shot just under the cross bar that didn’t seem to go in at first but the horn sounded moments later to put the Sharks up for good 2-0.
- The Sharks improve to 17-1-2 against the Flyers since the 2001-02 season and six straight.
- Aaron Dell earns his first career shutout in his 5th NHL start.
- Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game with 29.9 seconds remaining after taking a deflected slap shot to the face.
- Patrick Marleau scored his 491st career goal and sets a record for most career game winning goals for one franchise (95) and also officially gave him a game winning goal against every NHL franchise besides his Sharks.
Fear the Fin’s 3 Stars
- Aaron Dell
- Patrick Marleau
- Justin Braun
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