Chris Tierney

Sharks open road trip with dominant win over Flyers

Sharks open road trip with dominant win over Flyers

BOX SCORE

PHILADELPHIA -- The boos picked up steam in the second period. The "Fire Hakstol" chants became louder in the third.

When the Philadelphia Flyers' ugly 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks was over Tuesday night, players held a closed-door meeting, general manager Ron Hextall was insisting they're still a playoff team and coach Dave Hakstol was shaking off calls for his job.

Mired in a nine-game losing streak - its longest skid in nearly in 10 years - things are getting ugly in Philadelphia.

"Nobody said this was going to be easy," Hakstol said. "If you don't want to be in this spot, it's a choice. That's how I react to it. There are high expectations in this market."

Joe Thornton scored the go-ahead goal late in the first period, Chris Tierney and Marc-Edouard Vlasic also scored and Logan Couture had two assists for the Sharks, who kicked off a four-game trip with their second straight win.

"The toughest game is always the first one," Thornton said. "Three-hour time change, you get here late, dinner late, everything is kind of off. So this first game is huge for us."

Claude Giroux scored 48 seconds in before the Flyers were blanked the rest of the way by backup Aaron Dell, who made 22 saves.

"They can chant whatever they want. We're in this together," Giroux said of his coach. "We're all in the same boat here. It's not on him, it's on everybody."

Thanks to blown leads and overtime and shootout defeats, Flyers are 0-4-5 since their last win, Nov. 9 against Chicago. It's the longest streak since an 0-8-2 stretch in February 2008.

After a players-only meeting postgame, Hextall addressed reporters.

"If we were playing poorly, I'd be the first to say, `We're playing poorly.' I would be," he said. "We're not playing poorly. To look objectively at our team right now and to say we're playing poorly, no. Are we shooting ourselves in the foot at times? Yes, we are. Critical mistakes at critical times, yes."

San Jose was without top goaltender Martin Jones, who sustained an unspecified injury near the end of his shutout of Winnipeg on Saturday. Jones traveled and is expected to play on the trip.

After Giroux's 11th goal, Dell looked sharp. Tierney tied it from the right circle at 10:29, and then Thornton's 5-on-3 goal with 1:18 left in the first period put the Sharks ahead 2-1.

Vlasic scored with 3:56 left in the second period as the Sharks improved to 6-2-1 on the road.

"Our style is good for the road, but I think our style is good for wherever we are playing," Vlasic said.

It marked the seventh time in nine games the Flyers have blown a lead during their skid. And undisciplined play continues to be a problem.

Philadelphia took three penalties in 3 minutes late in the first period. Then while trailing 2-1, the Flyers went on the power play early in the second period, only to have it negated 9 seconds later when Jakub Voracek tripped Tomas Hertl.

On the second day of a back-to-back, backup Michal Neuvirth made 31 saves for the Flyers, who showed little energy in the third period. They had just one shot on goal until Hakstol pulled Neuvirth for an extra attacker with about 3 minutes left.

"I don't have answers for you," Giroux said.

The Sharks earned a split in the season series after losing on opening night to the Flyers 5-3 behind Wayne Simmonds' hat trick. Simmonds has scored just four goals in 24 games since.

"We get booed every once in a while," said Simmons, who took two penalties. "But when we're getting booed the whole game, it's pretty embarrassing."

NOTES: Sharks F Joonas Donskoi left in the second period with an injury. . Sharks C Melker Karlsson (upper body) returned after a four-game absence and played on the fourth line. . Flyers D Radko Gudas served the sixth game of his 10-game suspension for slashing.

UP NEXT:
The Sharks play at Florida on Friday.

The Flyers host Boston on Saturday before a three-game trip to western Canada next week.

Subtle role change allowing Tierney to thrive

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USATSI

Subtle role change allowing Tierney to thrive

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer is using Chris Tierney in a subtly different role this season, and it’s allowing the fourth-year center to enjoy perhaps the best season of his career.

Over the last two years, Tierney was given difficult assignments. He wasn't mistaken for Patrice Bergeron, as he was still used in a bottom six role just as he is now, but he consistently started the majority of his shifts outside of the neutral zone in the defensive zone.

Often, coaches will start their most trusted defensive players on defensive zone faceoffs, thinking they’ll be able to recover the puck and break out of the zone. Similarly, their most trusted offensive players often start in the offensive zone, in order to establish puck possession.

In DeBoer’s first two seasons behind the San Jose bench, Tierney fell in the former camp. Only three Sharks that played at least 1000 minutes started more non-neutral zone shifts in the defensive zone, and only one was a forward (Long Beach native Matt Nieto, according to Corsica Hockey).

Although Tierney was drafted and developed with his defensive prowess in mind, that didn’t really square with his game. He wasn’t able to turn the tide with those assignments, posting the second-worst five-on-five possession numbers (49.09 corsi-for percentage) among forwards that played 1000 minutes in DeBoer’s first two seasons as head coach.

But he often showed flashes of offensive ability, even as he wasn’t scoring at the half-a-point per game clip that he began his career with in Todd McLellan’s final season as Sharks coach. This season, the Sharks seem to have that in mind.

Through 22 games, Tierney’s started a career-high 59.54 percent of his five-on-five shifts in the offensive zone, per Corsica. He’s never started more than 50 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone in a full season.

Tierney’s gotten a corresponding bump in his possession numbers, and is up to what would be a career-high 51.67 corsi-for percentage. He’s also shooting more and attempting more shots during five-on-five play than he did last season, albeit not as much as he did in his first two seasons.

He’s converting at a high clip, but this teammates aren’t: San Jose’s only scored on a little over three percent of their shots with Tierney on the ice at even strength. He may not convert on 14 percent of his five-on-five shots all season, but his teammates are due for better luck.

A corresponding bump in his teammates’ finishing means Tierney, who’s already on pace for his second-best offensive season in all situation, could far surpass his offensive totals from last season.

If he does, he’ll have DeBoer to thank for putting him in a position to succeed.

Dell masterful in goal for Sharks; leads San Jose to win over Canucks

Dell masterful in goal for Sharks; leads San Jose to win over Canucks

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Logan Couture and Chris Tierney each scored twice to help the San Jose Sharks keep up their dominance over the Vancouver Canucks with a 5-0 victory Saturday night.

Tomas Hertl had a goal and an assist, and Aaron Dell stopped 41 shots for his second career shutout as San Jose won for the fifth time in six games. The Sharks swept all five games of last year's series from the Canucks and picked up where they left off.

Jacob Markstrom stopped 26 of 29 shots for Vancouver, which has lost three of four.

For the second game in a row, the Sharks scored within the first minute. Hertl had a shot by Justin Braun glance off his skate and into the net off Markstrom's pads. He has seven points in his last six games against Vancouver.

Unlike the last game, when the Sharks were shut out the rest of the way, Couture added a goal late in the second period. Hertl won the puck along the board during a Canucks power play and floated a pass to the streaking Couture, who beat Markstrom 1-on-1 for the Sharks' first short-handed goal of the season.

Dell delivered a highlight-reel save with just over five minutes remaining. The Sharks turned the puck over in their own zone, with the Canucks getting two clear shots before Dell's glove save kept the puck out of the net.

Couture and Tierney added empty-net goals in the final two minutes, and Tierney converted his first penalty try in three attempts with 12.2 seconds left.

NOTES: Canucks F Loui Eriksson returned to the lineup after missing 12 games with a knee injury. ... Sharks C Melker Karlsson played in his 200th NHL game. ... Hertl recorded a multiple-point game for just the second time. ... Couture ended a five-game goalless streak. ... The Canucks killed off four penalties after allowing five power-play goals in their previous 10 chances. ... The Sharks allowed a season-high in shots.

UP NEXT

Canucks: At Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

Sharks: At Los Angeles on Sunday.