Flyers score late to avoid upset by Sharks

Samuel Ersson

      PHILADELPHIA – While the Flyers have knocked off their share of top teams, including Colorado, Vancouver, Edmonton, Carolina, Vegas and Florida this season, they occasionally have trouble with some of the lesser clubs.

      Like the lowly San Jose Sharks, a team they lost to in November and barely squeaked past on Tuesday night by a 3-2 score at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sharks’ 16 victories are the fewest in the NHL.

      A goal by Owen Tippett at 5:09 of the third period broke a 2-2 tie and sent the Flyers home with more than just a bit of relief.

      Tippett finished off a Travis Konecny feed at the right post with a shot past goalie Magnus Chrona for the winning goal.

      The win moved the Flyers four points up on the idle New York Islanders (who have two games in hand) in the Metropolitan Division standings and four in the conference standings on Detroit, which lost to Buffalo and has one game in hand.

      With head coach John Tortorella suspended for two games due to an incident in Saturday night’s game in Tampa Bay, associate coach Brad Shaw and assistant coach Rocky Thompson directed the Philadelphia bench.

      Thompson took the post-game microphone and said the Flyers had to stick to a game plan the same as any other team, even if the Sharks were playing loose and carefree.

      “We have to respect them,” Thompson said. “I don’t think we did because we can only play one way, whether we’re playing the Boston Bruins or San Jose, we’re good at our style of play. There are no easy nights for us. But if we play that way, we’ll be successful by the end of the night.

      “So they knew it going in and we knew it. It’s always a challenge. We haven’t been feeling that good, our schedule caught up to us. We have some guys who are a little bit under the weather and that’s been a bit of a grind. Mentally we weren’t sharp early but we were able to find a way.”

      A goal by Morgan Frost at 9:20 of the second period gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead. During a power play, Frost fired the puck home off a deflected Konecny shot. Frost ended an 11-game goal drought.

      However, the Sharks came back on the second of two power-play goals by Filip Zadina, who connected with a shot past goalie Samuel Ersson at 13:34.

      A Joel Farabee goal gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead but San Jose rallied to tie on a power-play goal.

      Farabee took a high, floating pass from Frost and broke free at the attack blue line. His shot deflected off the left post into the net.

      “I didn’t initially mean to put it that high,” Frost said. “I thought it was going to get batted down. I just watched ‘Beezer’ do his thing. Great finish by him.”

      The Sharks tied it with 40 seconds left in the period. Again, with the Sharks a man up, a pass deflected off Noah Cates stick straight to Zadina for a deke around Ersson.

      The Flyers might have picked up a little luck on their goal.

      “Me and Catesy were just pushing out on their ‘D’ and then we saw Frosty,” Farabee said. “Obviously we just had a really good block (on a San Jose shot), so we left the zone. What a pass by Frosty.”

      >Bounce-back game for Ersson

      After getting lit up for four goals in less than a first period of action in Saturday night’s 7-0 loss at Tampa, Ersson enjoyed a bounce-back performance.

      Perhaps his best save of the night came at 4:30 of the third period. He stopped San Jose’s Alexander Barabanov at point-blank range, keeping the tie in place until Tippett scored seconds later.

      In the NHL, it’s good to have a short memory.

      “It’s that time of year, right?” Ersson said. “I said it after last game, you have to look at it for what it is.”

      Some people thought the Barabanov save was the play of the game.

      “That’s the nice thing about being a goalie,” Ersson said. “You get to impact the game in a big way. That’s what you want. You’re going to have those moments come at you and you want to come out with a big save. That’s the most fun part about being a goalie.”

      Tippett said Ersson’s goaltending gives the rest of the team confidence. Everyone had something to prove after the Lightning game.

      “He stepped up big for us all year,” Tippett said. “He comes up big with those saves. All of us wanted to bounce back after last game. It started with him tonight. He kind of let us play and he made some huge saves.”

      >Short shots

      Entering Tuesday night’s game, the Flyers were ranked No. 1 in the NHL for blocked shots with 1,213. . .The Flyers resume action on Thursday night when the Toronto Maple Leafs hit town. . .The Flyers were ranked second with 2,165 shots on goal and averaged slightly over 33 shots per game, third in the NHL. . .Philadelphia’s defense pairs included Cam York-Travis Sanheim, Marc Staal-Ronnie Attard, Egor Zamula-Erik Johnson. Defenseman Adam Ginning, just called up from Lehigh Valley, was a scratch, as was forward Cam Atkinson, who has failed to score in his last 15 games.

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About Wayne Fish 2426 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.