PHILADELPHIA – One of the strengths of this year’s Sharks team has been its ability to respond from decisive losses.
That didn’t happen on Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center, as Wayne Simmonds’ breakaway goal gave the Flyers a 2-1 win in overtime.
The Sharks had been a perfect 6-0 in games following a loss of three or more goals. They were spanked by the Bruins on Thursday in Boston, 6-3.
Saturday’s defeat was their fourth straight, although they’ve picked up three points in the standings (0-1-3). The Flyers beat the Sharks in Philadelphia for the first time since Dec. 21, 2000.
On the winning goal, Simmonds stripped Brent Burns and raced ahead untouched before slipping the puck through Aaron Dell at 1:04.
It took until the third period for the game’s first goal. Andrew MacDonald’s shot rang off the far post and deflected to fellow defenseman Ivan Provorov’s stick. The rookie found the top corner with a wrist shot at 6:22 to put Philadelphia ahead.
Patrick Marleau’s 20th goal of the season tied it. Kevin Labanc, filling in for an injured Logan Couture on the top power play unit, found the veteran in the slot and Marleau chipped it through at 9:23.
The Sharks appeared to take an early 1-0 on a power play goal, when Chris VandeVelde booted a loose puck into his own net. The Flyers challenged, though, and it was ruled that Labanc – who would have gotten credit for the score – interfered with goalie Michal Neuvirth.
Other than that, the Flyers dominated the first period, outshooting the Sharks 14-4 and out-attempting them 34-7. Dell kept it scoreless, though, making a dazzling glove save on Simmonds midway through after Simmonds froze Burns on his way to the net.
In the second period, the Sharks controlled the puck in the offensive zone for the duration of a two-minute power play, but the Flyers kept them on the perimeter while Neuvirth was without a stick for much of the advantage.
Dell helped force overtime with a pad stop on Sean Couturier from the doorstep with about a minute to go in regulation. He’s 6-3-1 on the season.
Couture was a late scratch with an unspecified injury.
The Sharks finished 1-for-3 on the power play, which is steadily improving lately, going 5-for-18 over the last six games. Six of Marleau’s 20 goals have come with a man advantage.
The Flyers went 0-for-3, including an advantage with 4:14 to go when Paul Martin tripped Nick Cousins. San Jose’s penalty kill was a concern entering the afternoon, going just 5-for-10 in the last three games.
Dell, who came on in relief of Martin Jones for the final two periods of Thursday’s loss in Boston, was starting for the first time Jan. 24 at Winnipeg. He made 33 saves.
Of Dell’s 11 games, nine have come against Eastern Conference opponents, including both Sharks-Flyers meetings. He had a 21-save shutout of Philadelphia on Dec. 30 at SAP Center, the first of his career.
Neuvirth started his fourth game out of five for Philadelphia. He allowed one goal on 24 shots, improving to 2-3-0 in his career against the Sharks.
Marleau stretched his point streak to nine games, with eight goals and five assists over that span.
Labanc was recalled on Friday, and although he wasn’t expected to play shortly before the game, he got in the lineup when Couture couldn’t go. For the first time since his injury, Tomas Hertl started a game at center, skating between Timo Meier and Joel Ward on what was the Sharks’ most effective line at even strength.
Rookie Marcus Sorensen played in his second career NHL game after he sat out Thursday in Boston.
The Sharks play their final Eastern Conference road game on Sunday in New Jersey. San Jose spanked the Devils at home on Nov. 21, 4-0.