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Nieto beats the clock and Flyers
Last second goal nets SJ back to back wins
12/2/14 - By Mike Lee -

There is no skirting the fact that the Sharks are struggling right now. The offense has been thin and the defense porous, but even with those issues, San Jose was able to celebrate a win on Tuesday night. The Sharks put their issues on the shelf for an evening and scratched out a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Flyers have their own issues to deal with, having won only once in their last 10 games. Philadelphia last notched a road victory on October 22nd in Pittsburgh.

The win was the first time San Jose had strung together two consecutive victories since the end of October when they beat Anaheim and Colorado in consecutive games. It was only the third time this season that the Sharks put together two consecutive wins.

Many of the Sharks ills have centered around the team's lack of production up and down the lineup. The Sharks seemed to be stuck in neutral for most of the evening. San Jose missed out on generating scoring chances because there are no second chance opportunities. For the majority of the evening, too many players seemed content to watch the play rather than follow the action and capitalize after the primary chances missed.

Ironically, it was a second chance opportunity that decided the game.

Matt Nieto followed Patrick Marleau to the net and gave the Sharks their first and only lead of the game with 11.5 seconds left in regulation. Nieto intercepted a puck at center ice and kicked it forward to Marleau, who made a beeline towards the Flyers net. Philadelphia goaltender Steve Mason denied Marleau's scoring chance, but the puck kicked out to the right of the net. Tommy Wingels tried to get to is, but overskated it after being checked by a Flyers defender. Nieto was there to clean up, sweeping the puck home as Brayden Schenn's diving attempt to block the shot fell short.

It was as dramatic a goal as they come, and one the Sharks desperately needed.

"He [Nieto] made a tremendous read in the neutral zone, created a turnover and, it wasn't the first follow up by Wingels, it was the second one," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "So give him credit for sticking with it. I thought that was the way the night went. We weren't very good in the first period, I think that was obvious. But we stuck with it and got a little better as the night went on. Good to see those results."

It was another sad sack finish for the Flyers who trail in the 13th spot in the Eastern Conference.

Having arrived in San Jose over the weekend, the Flyers flew to the West Coast early to acclimate themselves to the Pacific Time Zone as they tour the left coast, playing the Sharks, Ducks and Kings.

Philadelphia played well enough the win the perfect road game, by scoring first, and playing tight defense.

"I think we played one of our best games out there," said Flyers forward Claude Giroux. "We play as a team. Obviously, the result won't show how well we played, but we keep our heads held high and get ready for tomorrow. I think it's important that we stick together. I think we are doing that right now. The only way to get out of this hole we are in is to get out together."

James Sheppard took a lazy interference penalty 4:18 into the game, setting up the first score of the game. Philadelphia converted on the ensuing power play, when Sean Couturier snapped a shot from the left circle past Antti Niemi. The Flyers did what the Sharks refuse to do on the power play, moving the puck toward the goal and taking shots from in close, rather than from the stratosphere.

The Flyers reciprocated with a Niklas Grossman tripping penalty 1:57 into the 2nd period, but the Sharks failed to generate anything against the worst penalty kill in the league. Philadelphia actually created the best scoring chance of the sequence when Grossman took a lead pass out of the box and raced in on net with a breakaway chance. Niemi stopped Grossman to keep the fruitless power play from turning into a catastrophe.

The defense finally took matters into their own hands by tying the game with 2:16 left in the 2nd period. Marc-Edouard Vlasic bagged his 3rd goal of the season after cutting down the slot and taking a feed from Tommy Wingels before snapping a shot over Steve Mason's right shoulder.

"I joined the rush, Wingels made a nice play and I put it in the back of the net," said Vlasic. "I knew Giroux was behind me, so I knew I could jump up and beat him. And I did that."

Andrew Desjardins looked as if he would put the Sharks up 7 minutes into the 3rd period when he chipped a turnover past the Flyers defense. The 4th line forward raced up ice uncontested, but muffed the shot as he raced in on Mason.

Not all was well in Sharksland following the game. Logan Couture collided with Michael Raffl midway through the 2nd period, slamming his chin into Raffl's shoulder pad. He skated straight to the dressing room and did not return.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
PHI 1 0 0 1
SJ 0 1 1 2
1st period - 1, PHI, Couturier 5 (Laughton, MacDonald), 6:00, (pp).
2nd period - 2, SJ, Vlasic 3 (Wingels, Couture), 17:44.
3rd period - 3, SJ, Nieto 3 (Wingels, Marleau), 19:48.
Penalties
1st period - Sheppard, SJ (interference), 4:18; Couturier, PHI (fighting major), 14:58; Dillon, SJ (fighting major), 14:58.
2nd period - Grossman, PHI (tripping), 1:57; Braun, SJ (interference), 9:50.
3rd period - None.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
PHI - Mason 27 25
SJ - Niemi 29 28
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
PHI 16 6 7 29
SJ 6 13 8 27
Power Play Conversion
PHI 1 of 2
SJ 0 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Matt Nieto
Antti Niemi
Steve Mason
Attendence
17,159
Officials
Referees: Lee, St Laurent. Linesmen: Miller, Pancich.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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