Chalk this one up as another frustrating loss.
Per usual 10 p.m. start time protocol, the Flyers came out of the gate mightily slow. Fortunately for them, Steve Mason came to play, having to stop eight shots within the first seven minutes. His teammates could only muster one of their own on net in that span. The 28-year-old netminder answered all of the numerous San Jose opportunities that came within point blank range.
Steve Mason with a great save on Melker Karlsson pic.twitter.com/7jubO4nc8a— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 31, 2016
Until the 4:31 mark, that is. Less than a minute after Mason went down with an apparent left hand injury (he stayed in the game after a brief stoppage), the Sharks capitalized on the remaining time on their second power play of the period as Patrick Marleau snuck one past a screened Mason.
The Flyers, who were being outshot 12-6 up to this point, went on the man advantage for the first time with a minute and a half to go in the first as a result of Brent Burns tripping an oncoming Wayne Simmonds. A few decent looks were turned away by San Jose’s Aaron Dell, who was starting in place of Martin Jones, as the Flyers went into the intermission trailing 1-0 and outshot, 12-7. The scoreboard could have been a lot worse if not for Mason’s play, so in that regard, they were lucky to come out of the first 20 minutes with only one blemish.
Unfortunately, the hits kept on coming right at the start of the period as Anthony Stolarz strolled out onto the ice and not Mason to start the second. General manager Ron Hextall said he was, “nicked up” and that more information on his status will be available on Saturday.
That brief in-game scare, though, was washed away rather quickly as Stolarz stepped right in and didn’t miss a beat during the second period. He turned away all nine of the shots he saw in the middle frame, including a 2-on-1, a Joe Thornton wrister through traffic and a golden opportunity for Marleau in the crease in the final minutes. Unfortunately for the rookie, he fell victim to a common theme for Flyers goalies as of late: lack of goal support.
The offense looked a bit better in the second, but that wasn’t hard to do after their showing the first 20 minutes. They put up seven shots once again in the second but had a few more scoring chances this time around, including a Wayne Simmonds snapshot on a shorthanded 2-on-1 that was shut down by Dell. Other than that, it was pretty much smooth sailing for Dell as his defense stifled the Flyers in their defensive zone through the first 40 minutes. The Flyers top line was responsible for just two of the team’s 14 shots up to this point.
Down by one goal, an offensive push by the Flyers was expected. That proved to be nothing but a fantasy as the Sharks defense continued to give them fits. Seemingly every possession was neutralized to just one look before play went the other way. That trend continued through the first 10 minutes of the third period as the Flyers had just four shots on net compared to the 10 that San Jose put on Stolarz. A handful of those opportunities were -- again -- up close and personal as Stolarz was forced to make a few sprawling saves to keep it a one-goal deficit.
He later answered the bell on a cross-ice pass in front of the net to Kevin Labanc that saw Stolarz go from his left to right and catch the puck with his shoulder.
Stolarz the goalrZ pic.twitter.com/ooTEwyZuAA— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 31, 2016
The Flyers best scoring chance of the night came with a little over five minutes to go in the third as Giroux rung one off the post on a feed from Raffl who was below the right circle.
A few minutes later, the Sharks found themselves going the other way as Joe Pavelski feathered a pass to Justin Braun who had no one but Stolarz in front of him. He ripped one over Stolarz’s glove to increase the lead to 2-0. Prior to that, Stolarz had stopped the first 19 shots he saw in relief of Mason.
Over the remaining 4:37, the Flyers couldn’t sustain much pressure. Stolarz eventually fled his net with 1:30 to go in the game to give way for the extra man. The Sharks cleared the zone twice (one of which a botched pass by the Flyers) before a scary, scary injury.
A Shayne Gostisbehere point shot was deflected up high right into the face of Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Immediately, Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds — who were jockeying for position in front of the net with Vlasic -- waved over to the bench for assistance as Vlasic went straight to the ice with blood pouring onto the ice.
Here is the shot Vlasic took up high pic.twitter.com/mjuAoU5gkP— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 31, 2016
Vlasic skated back into the locker room and play resumed, only to see the Flyers fail to score in the final seconds, resulting in their second shutout over the past three games.
That winning streak seems like time ago, huh?
Notes to know:
- Anthony Stolarz stopped 21 of 22 shots in relief. He now has a .938 save percentage. Things will be interesting once Michal Neuvirth returns. What will Ron Hextall do?
- The rookie defenseman continued to be anything but that. Ivan Provorov received the most ice time once again with an even 24:00. The next closest was Michael Del Zotto (20:46). Provorov is the only rookie who leads his team in average time on ice.
- The Flyers totaled exactly seven shots in each of the three periods. They were outshot 34-21.
- An 0-2 night on the power play means the Flyers have just one goal on the man-advantage in their last eight games.
- There was some line shuffling prior to the game with the most noteworthy move being the scratching of Travis Konecny. Roman Lyubimov also was out of the lineup as was Radko Gudas, who is dealing with minor lower-back pain. There should once again be some movement in the lines against Anaheim.