PHILADELPHIA - The Sharks snapped a five-game losing streak with their 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night at the Wachovia Center. Jonathan Cheechoo opened the scoring with his third goal in four games and Milan Michalek added the game winning goal for his 20th tally of the season while defenseman Douglas Murray netted his first career NHL goal to seal the victory.
|San Jose Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov, of Khazakstan, deflects a shot as Philadelphia Flyers Sammy Kapanen, of Finland, looks on in the second period of a hockey game on Thursday Feb. 21, 2008, in Philadelphia. Sna Jose won 3-1. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)|
Evegni Nabokov returned to the Sharks net with a bridge of stiches across the top of his nose and made 26 saves against a struggling Flyers squad. The win was Nabokov's 32nd of the season in 59 starts.
Across the ice from Nabokov was Martin Biron manning the net for Philadelphia.
Thursday's game marked the half-way point of San Jose's eight-game road trip as the team was embarking on their fourth game in five days and still looking for their first win since February 9.
As frustrating as the last five games have been for San Jose, the Flyers have had it worse. Having lost their last eight games, Philadelphia was in their longest losing streak of the season and hadn’t beaten the Sharks since Dec. 21, 2001. That’s nearly seven years.
Before the game, Sharks center and former Philadelphia Flyer Jeremy Roenick was honored by the Flyers in a pre-game ceremony to commemorate his 500-goal milestone. The 19-year NHL veteran spent three years playing for Philadelphia between 2001-04 and led the team to three-straight playoff appearances, including the Eastern Conference Finals in 2004.
The Sharks went on the power play early after Flyers right wing Stefan Ruzicka received a delay of game penalty for clearing the puck over the glass from his defensive zone at 1:31.San Jose was unsuccessful on the drive, with only one shot registered over the two minute man advantage.
The game was sparked half-way through the first when Jody Shelley and Riley Cote jumped into a brawl right off a faceoff at 8:46. For one minute and ten seconds the two left wings exchanged blows, as Shelley was knocked down to his knees twice only to get back up and continue fighting. As the fight ended and Shelley was skating to the penalty box, he spit out a fake tooth into his hand.
Cheechoo got the Sharks on the board first when Joe Thornton found the right winger on the top of the slot at 15:56. Cheechoo netted his 17th goal of the season by shooting the puck up over the glove of Biron into the top corner to give San Jose the 1-0 lead. The goal was Cheechoo's third in four games and eighth point in seven games.
After a first period of physical play by both teams, the Sharks were outshooting Philadelphia 17-8 and leading 1-0.
Within the first minute of the second period, the Sharks were dealt a dangerous blow when Christian Ehrhoff was struck by a stray puck while sitting on the bench. The German defenseman was immediately escorted back to the dressing room with a towel over his face, but returned five minutes later with a butterfly band aid and a cut under his left eye.
Nabokov made all All-Star stop at 15:30 of the second when he was forced to slide across the crease to make a beautiful glove save on a Scott Hartnell slap shot. He was tested again at 13:31 when R.J. Umberger came streaking down the left side on a breakaway, but Nabokov made the pad save on Flyers center to preserve the one goal lead.
San Jose had two power-play opportunities in the second period, but was unsuccessful on each attempt.
With seconds remaining in the middle stanza, the Flyers broke out in a three-on-one when Craig Rivet lost his footing in the Sharks offensive zone. Philadelphia’s Ruzicka, Michael Knuble and Mike Richards played tic-tac-toe around Murray before Knuble fired the puck past Nabokov for his 22nd goal of the season.
The tally came with 5.6 seconds remaining in the period and tied the game, 1-1.
The Flyers bench started the third period down two players as right wings Riley Cote and Scottie Upshall were given ten-minute misconducts for fighting at the end of the second period.
|San Jose Sharks Milan Michalek (9), of the Czech Republic, celebrates his game-winning goal early in the third period of a hockey game with the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008, in Philadelphia. San Jose won 3-1. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)|
San Jose’s offense sparked in the final stanza of the game when Michalek and Murray scored back-to-back goals to give the Sharks a 3-1 lead. Michalek’s 20th goal of the season came at 3:35 after he used a toe drag move to get around his defenseman and then he poked the puck between the legs of Biron.
Less than a minute later, Murray threw the puck towards the net through traffic and ended up with the first goal of his NHL career. The Swedish defenseman had played in 115 games before netting his first tally at 4:17.
With just under four minutes remaining in the game, Joe Pavelski and Knuble went into the boards behind the Flyers net and Knuble’s stick strayed up into the face of the Sharks center. Pavelski’s lip was cut open and Knuble was handed a four-minute penalty for high sticking, giving the Sharks the opportunity to have a five-on-four advantage for the remainder of the game.
Then with under a minute to go, Hartnell was called for unsportsmanlink conduct and the Sharks had a five-on-three power play on their hands. On the ensuing drives, Roenick hit the post, but the San Jose couldn’t add to their lead and settled for the 3-1 victory over the Flyers.
Michalek - Thornton – Cheechoo
Pavelski – Marleau – Bernier
Rissmiller – Mitchell – Grier
Shelley – Goc – Roenick
Ehrhoff – McLaren
Carle – Rivet
Murray - Vlasic
The Sharks will continue their eight-game road trip on Sunday, February 24 when the take on the Pittsburgh Penguins at Noon (Pacific). The game will be broadcast on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX FM, Sharks Radio Affiliates and SJSAHRKS.com.
From the AP Wire
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Douglas Murray and Milan Michalek scored goals 42 seconds apart early in the third period to lift the San Jose Sharks to a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.
Jonathan Cheechoo scored his 17th goal for the Sharks, who snapped a five-game losing streak. Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves for San Jose.
Mike Knuble scored his 22nd goal for the slumping Flyers.
The season keeps getting worse for the Flyers, who started the month as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers lost their ninth straight game (0-8-1) and the home crowd booed a team that could be out of the Eastern Conference playoff standings by the end of Thursday's games.
Forget chasing the No. 1 seed in the East or securing home-ice advantage in the playoffs. The Flyers simply need a spark to get back into the win column and resume a playoff push.
The Flyers thought they found that something extra when Knuble scored with 6 seconds left in the second period that tied the game at 1. So many times this season, the Flyers were the ones who suffered breakdowns around the net in the waning moments of periods, a disastrous habit that irritated coach John Stevens.
The goal also was responsible for the loudest cheers of the night. The Philly faithful have had enough and the Flyers were booed almost the entire game, especially when they were outhustled to the puck.
A big screen ad for a Daniel Briere promotion brought some of the loudest boos. Briere has been a disappointment in his first season in Philadelphia and entered a with a disastrous rating of minus-22, easily the worst on the Flyers.
Whatever lift the Flyers hoped they could carry into the third was wiped out by a quick pair of San Jose goals.
Michalek's 20th goal seemed to trickle through Martin Biron's legs for a 2-1 lead only 3:35 into the third. The Sharks needed only 42 seconds to score again, this time when Murray's first career goal appeared to bounce off Biron into the net like a basketball bank shot.
Cheechoo's goal from the high slot late in the first gave San Jose a 1-0 lead.
Notes: The Flyers honored Sharks C Jeremy Roenick for his 500th career goal. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren hugged Roenick, who played three seasons with the Flyers, and presented him with a Tiffany crystal. ... Flyers F Simon Gagne will miss the rest of the season (concussion). Gagne was told with proper rest the symptoms should not affect the remainder his career.