Clowe’s lone goal lifts Sharks over Flyers
February 29, 2012
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – After struggling to stop anybody during a grueling nine-game road trip, Antti Niemi and the San Jose Sharks stopped everything against the NHL’s most prolific offense.
Ryane Clowe scored the lone goal early in the first period, and Niemi made it stand up with 26 saves for his fifth shutout as the Sharks celebrated their return home by beating the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0 on Tuesday night.
“He had struggled a little bit but I think tonight he played great, saw all the pucks,” Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. “This should definitely get his confidence back. He looked good and comfortable. It was nice to see.”
The Sharks had gone 2-6-1 on the 17-day trip that knocked them out of first place in the Pacific Division and into a precarious position for a playoff berth.
With little room for error in the final quarter of the season, the Sharks managed to hold on thanks to a strong bounce-back performance by Niemi to beat the Flyers for the ninth straight time.
Niemi lost four of five games on the trip and didn’t even make it out of the first period in two of those games. But he was up to the task in his first meeting against the Flyers since beating them to win the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010.
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The Sharks allowed 35 goals during the road trip but gave up none to the NHL’s highest-scoring team, surviving a wild scramble in front of the net in the final minute when Torrey Mitchell and Daniel Winnik blocked shots, and Niemi made a save in the final seconds against Scott Hartnell.
“It was a perfect defensive game against the best offensive team in the league,” defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. “We set the bar pretty high. If we can do it against them we can do it against any team.”
Ilya Bryzgalov made 22 saves for the Flyers, robbing Thornton and TJ Galiardi early in the third period to keep the deficit at one. But Philadelphia never got the equalizer and remained 11 points behind the first-place New York Rangers in the Atlantic Division. Philadelphia was shut out for the second time in three games, also losing 2-0 last Thursday in Edmonton.
“It’s kind of tough when most of the shots from the defense are getting blocked,” Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr said. “We have to find a way to somehow get it in. Maybe shoot quicker a little bit, I don’t know. We’re waiting too much. We have to find better timing.”
The Flyers briefly lost forward Danny Briere late in the third period when his head crashed into the boards following a hit from behind by Vlasic. There was no penalty called on the play, and Briere returned.
“It seemed like a tough call,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. “It seemed like (Vlasic) pushed him head first, and somebody can get hurt like that. But I haven’t seen it to comment on it. He’s fine. Right now he is anyway.”
The game marked the San Jose debuts for Winnik and Galiardi, acquired before Monday’s NHL trade deadline for forward Jamie McGinn and two prospects.
But the Sharks were far from complete as All-Star forward Logan Couture sat out with a lower body injury after taking three hard hits in Minnesota on Sunday. Defenseman Douglas Murray remained sidelined by a throat injury, and coach Todd McLellan missed the game with concussion symptoms after being hit in the head by a stick in Minnesota. Assistants Matt Shaw and Jay Woodcroft ran the team in his place.
The Sharks got off to a fast start in their first home game since Feb. 10, with Clowe beating Bryzgalov with a wrist shot just 1:22 in. Niemi, who struggled most of February, did the rest. He made a pad save on a deflection, and stopped Brayden Schenn’s rebound attempt in the closing seconds of the period.
“That’s the Nemo that we know,” Shaw said. “He has that ability to win us a game, and he did that.”
The teams combined for just 13 shots in the second, with the Flyers failing on two power-play chances, and the Sharks unable to convert on their opportunity with the man advantage.
Bryzgalov kept it a one-goal game with a strong stop against Patrick Marleau, who was alone in front in the closing minutes of the second.
NOTES: The Sharks had the lead after the first period for just the 15th time in 62 games this season. They are 12-2-1 in those situations. … The Flyers haven’t won back-to-back games since Jan. 10-12 at Carolina and the New York Islanders. … Philadelphia was shut out for the fifth time this season. … Niemi has 18 career shutouts.
BOSTON (AP) – Robin Lehner stopped 32 shots for his first NHL shutout and defenseman Erik Karlsson scored the lone goal, lifting surging Ottawa to a 1-0 win over Boston on Tuesday night.
It was the Senators’ first victory in five games against the Bruins this season.
The Senators moved one point behind the Northeast Division-leading Bruins, who have played four fewer games. Ottawa won for the sixth time in seven games and sent the Bruins to their fourth loss in six.
The 20-year old Lehner was playing in just his 11th NHL game. He started because regular goalie Craig Anderson is sidelined indefinitely after cutting his hand last week in a kitchen accident.
Tim Thomas made 37 saves for the Bruins, but lost to a divisional opponent for just the second time in 14 games.
COYOTES 2, CANUCKS 1, SO
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Mike Smith stopped 39 shots, Ray Whitney scored in the third period and during the shootout, and Phoenix extended its point streak to 12 games by beating NHL-leading Vancouver.
Smith allowed a goal on a carom in the first period, but nothing else. He stopped Alexander Edler and Mason Raymond in the shootout to extend his career-best and franchise-record winning streak to 11 games. Whitney scored in the third period to tie it and Mikkel Boedker sealed Phoenix’s sixth straight win with a nifty move to beat Cory Schneider in the shootout. The Pacific Division-leading Coyotes have won seven straight home games.
Edler scored in the first period, and Schneider stopped 34 shots, but allowed goals on two of three shots in the shootout.
RED WINGS 5, BLUE JACKETS 2
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Henrik Zetterberg scored the go-ahead goal and added an assist, and Joey MacDonald had 28 saves to help Detroit end a three-game slide by beating Columbus.
Johan Franzen had a goal and two assists, Niklas Kronwall and Valtteri Filppula both added a goal and assist, and Jan Mursak also scored for the Red Wings, who are 26-3-2 at home but only 16-16-1 on the road.
MacDonald, 7-1-1 this season playing behind No. 1 goalie Jimmy Howard, made a big stop on Ryan Russell’s short-handed breakaway to keep the game tied at 2 in the third period.
Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash, who was on the block but not traded before Monday’s NHL deadline, scored his 22nd goal. Derek MacKenzie added a short-handed goal for Columbus.
The Red Wings netted four goals in just over 10 minutes of the third period after falling behind on MacKenzie’s goal.
CAPITALS 3, ISLANDERS 2, OT
WASHINGTON (AP) – Alex Ovechkin scored at 1:35 of overtime after Troy Brouwer tallied twice in the final 31/2 minutes of regulation, giving Washington an improbable win over the New York Islanders.
Blanked by Evgeni Nabokov for 56 minutes, the Capitals mounted a stunning rally to win their third straight – their longest streak since an identical run in mid-January.
Brouwer cut the deficit to 2-1 with 3:29 left in regulation, and then, after Capitals coach Dale Hunter pulled goalie Michal Neuvirth, Brouwer deflected a shot by Brooks Laich past Nabokov to tie it with 25.5 seconds to play.
It was the fourth straight road loss for the Islanders, who were 13-1-5 when leading after two periods. Nabokov fell to 10-2 against the Capitals, who were 0-3 against the Islanders, the only Eastern Conference team they failed to defeat this season.
Josh Bailey and Matt Moulson scored for New York.
HURRICANES 4, PREDATORS 3
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Bryan Allen scored his first goal of the season on a breakaway coming out of the penalty box, and Carolina held on to beat Nashville.
Nashville’s Gabriel Bourque scored less than a minute later – at 2:16 of the third period – to cut Carolina’s lead to 4-3, but the Predators couldn’t tie it.
Eric Staal and Tim Brent scored power-plays goals in the second period, and Jamie McBain had Carolina’s first goal earlier in the frame.
Craig Smith and Colin Wilson also scored for Nashville, which had its two-game winning streak snapped. The Predators lost in regulation for just the sixth time since Dec. 28.
LIGHTNING 2, CANADIENS 1
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Steven Stamkos scored his NHL-leading 44th goal, and Tampa Bay beat slumping Montreal.
Adam Hall also scored for the Lightning, who are 11th in the Eastern Conference and trail eighth-place Washington by five points. Mathieu Garon finished with 23 saves.
David Desharnais scored for the Canadiens, who have lost five in a row and been outscored 16-5 in that stretch.
Tampa Bay went ahead 2-1 when Hall ended his 45-game goal drought, dating to the season opener against Carolina.
Desharnais had tied it with 3:58 left in the first.
PANTHERS 5, MAPLE LEAFS 3
TORONTO (AP) – Mike Santorelli scored twice for Florida in a road win over Toronto.
Loud chants of “Fire Wilson!” directed at coach Ron Wilson were heard twice during the third period as the Leafs lost for the ninth time in 10 games, including all four on a homestand. Toronto is four points out of a playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
Marcel Goc, Jason Garrison and Stephen Weiss also scored for Florida, which leads the Southeast Division with 72 points. Jose Theodore added 28 saves.
Phil Kessel, Nikolai Kulemin and Joffrey Lupul had goals for the Maple Leafs.
It was the fifth straight game in which Toronto fell behind 2-0.
KINGS 4, WILD 0
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Backup goalie Jonathan Bernier stopped 25 shots for his fifth NHL shutout, and Anze Kopitar scored and added in Los Angeles’ rout of Minnesota.
Justin Williams, Dwight King and Jordan Nolan added goals for Los Angeles, which entered the game having won only one of six. The Kings moved into a tie with Dallas and Colorado for the eighth place in the Western Conference.
Los Angeles scored four goals on only 15 shots.
Bernier secured his first victory since Jan. 9 and didn’t give up a goal for the first time since shutting out Edmonton last March.
Minnesota, which had won three of four, remained five points below the postseason cutoff.