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Flyers steamrolled in Philly
Sharks knock off the East's best
2/16/04 - by Mike Lee

After dropping the first two games of their current six-game road trip, the Sharks appear to have all cylinders firing in unison once again. San Jose's 5-2 throttling of the host Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night was evidence that the minor hiccup last week in Detroit and Buffalo is behind them. Five Sharks scored, including Jonathan Cheechoo and Scott Thornton, who both added two assists to the score sheet. Patrick Marleau, Marco Sturm and Mike Ricci also score for San Jose.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 2 1 2 5
PHI 1 0 1 2
1st period - S.J, MARLEAU (23) (STURM, PRIMEAU), 01:29 S.J, STURM (16) (MARLEAU, HANNAN), 08:11 PHI, LECLAIR (17) (HANDZUS, RECCHI), 15:52
2nd period - S.J, THORNTON (10) (RICCI, CHEECHOO), 13:25
1st period - S.J, CHEECHOO, 14:56 - Holding PHI, SOMIK, 16:17 - Boarding
2nd period - PHI, LAPOINTE, 03:31 - Interference
3rd period - S.J, MCLAREN, 06:49 - Tripping PHI, BRASHEAR, 11:53 - Roughing
  Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 22 20
PHI - Burke 20 15
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 6 10 4 20
PHI 11 6 5 22
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 3
PHI 1 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Scott Thornton
Jonathan Cheechoo
Mike Ricci
The Sharks wasted no time setting the tone to the evening, converting just 1:29 into the opening period when Marleau stuffed his own rebound past Sean Burke. Marleau bounced the puck off Burke's blocker from eight feet out, then easily lifted the rebound past Burke for his 24th goal of the season.

Sturm would follow up with his 17th of the season less than seven minutes later on a tic toes sequence in front of the Flyers net. Scott Hannan tried setting up Marleau on the left post with a pass from the high slot. Marleau immediately recognized that his angle was too severe and Burke was drawn to the cover the pass, so he sent a touch pass across the slot, where Sturm easily slammed it home for the 2-0 lead.

The Flyers would cut the lead to 2-1 with just over four minutes remaining in the period when John Leclair redirected a pass on the doorstep from Michal Handzus while on the power play. Cheechoo had been sent off a minute earlier after taking a bad holding penalty in the Flyers zone.

San Jose pushed their lead back to two goals when Thornton one-timed a pass from Mike Ricci past Burke midway through the 2nd period. Ricci fished the puck off the back of the Flyers net then slipped a pass under a Flyers stick to Thornton on who was parked just outside the right post.

Thornton would setup Cheechoo at the midway mark of the final period with a nice centering pass after the two started a jail break right up the ice. Thornton sent the puck under Dany Markov's, allowing Cheechoo to square off with Burke one-on-one. The young Sharks forward easily lifted the puck over Burke's glove hand for his 15th of the season.

Ricci would cap the scoring for San Jose with a shot from outside the right post after exchanging passes with Cheechoo at the bottom of the right circle. The goal was Ricci's 100th as a Shark.

Simone Gagne would add a meaningless goal with 4:41 to play, but Philadelphia couldn't muster any more offense.

Play of the Game
Sharks head coach Ron Wilson has criticized his team on few occasions but one recent jab was aimed at the Sharks tendency to overpass the puck at times. You could say San Jose was guilty of that infraction on Sturm's goal, but it sure looked sweet. Marleau probably had a decent scoring chance himself on the play, but he made the unselfish dish to a slashing Marco Sturm. The replay is one you're sure to see at the Tank when the Sharks return home on February 23rd.

The Turning Point
After jumping out to a quick lead the Sharks found themselves in a precarious position after LeClair cut into the Sharks lead late in the 1st period. Thornton's goal in the 2nd period really diffused that situation and gave the Sharks some breathing room. The third line of Thornton, Ricci and Cheechoo would make sure Thornton's goal would stand up, by putting two more past Burke later in the game.

Save of the Game
Evgeni Nabokov only faced 22 shot on the evening, but none was bigger than a pair he faced opening period. He was forced to throw his body in front of a Handzus blast, then spring to his knees and lunge for a follow up after the initial shot kicked out into the slot.

Box Scores Do No Justice
The Sharks only managed 20 shots on goal themselves, but don't blame the route entirely on Burke. The Flyers newly acquired netminder was hung out to dry on every goal. The one thing that was consistent on every goal was zero defensive coverage on the shooter. The Philadelphia fans booed Burke often and mocked him when he made an easy stop in the 3rd period, but those folks need to jump on the Flyers defense, who were no match for San Jose's speed.

Honorable Mention
If you need any evidence that the Sharks are playing team hockey, consider Wayne Primeau's non-reaction to Donald Brashear's sucker punch in the 3rd period. Primeau refused to get baited after Brashear had drawn a rouging penalty with a late hit on Marleau moments earlier.

"We have been getting quite a few chances, but we just haven't been burying them. Our goal was to keep coming the way we've been coming and just bear down on some of our chances." - Jonathan Cheechoo

"We were sloppy with the puck and we made far too many mistakes in our own end. You can't make those mistakes against a good team and expect to win." - Flyers head coach Ken Hitchcock

"We were ready to play and our guys were all fired up. We viewed this as a test of our legitimacy. Right now this is the best team in the East and one of the best in hockey. We kind of looked at it like if we were ever to dream that we were going to win the Stanley Cup, we might have to win a game like this is May or June." - Sharks head coach Ron Wilson

Ricci's goal was his 100th as a Shark

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