-- The San Jose Sharks
know they're going to get lots of goals from Joe Thornton
, Patrick Marleau
and Dany Heatley. As good as that trio is, however, it's not going to score every night.
Of the three, only Heatley put the puck in the net on Sunday night at the Wachovia Center. But it still ended up as a winning night for the Sharks, as Manny Malhotra scored his first two goals of the season in a 4-1 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers
Jed Ortmeyer also had a goal, Marleau and Dan Boyle
each had a pair of assists and backup goalie Thomas Greiss
made 37 saves in his first start of the season.
"It's huge," Thornton told NHL.com. "We've had some injuries. We need a guy to step up and Manny did a hell of a job tonight."
Malhotra, in his 11th NHL season, didn't sign with the Sharks until Sept. 23, well into training camp. He's still learning about his new teammates and went the first 10 games of the season without a point. He had an assist in Saturday's win in Atlanta, and had the hot stick Sunday against the Flyers.
"Manny has been really good for us defensively, penalty killing-wise," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "The fact that he found a way to get on the scoreboard put us over the top tonight. I think he's starting to feel real comfortable with our team, with his linemates, and we're happy for that."
With the game tied 1-1 in the second period, Malhotra tried to follow the rebound of a Marleau shot, but was pushed out of the play by Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen
. The puck found him behind the Philadelphia net, and when he threw it out front, it hit off the stick of Flyers goalie Brian Boucher and went into the net.
Malhotra made it 3-1 moments later. Timonen knocked the puck off Marleau's stick in the Philadelphia end, but Malhotra was trailing the play, and his shot from the right faceoff circle beat Boucher at 10:05.
It was Malhotra's first two-goal game since March 26.
"Simple plays," Malhotra said. "We really got down to simple hockey. The first was going to the net. Patty made a good play on the net and I was very fortunate to get that bounce off the (goalie) and go in. The second one, Patty pushed the guy off the puck, getting up in the play, forcing him to make a bad decision, just getting pucks to the net. Lot of simple hockey tonight. That won us the game."
It helped to get a solid effort from their goaltender.
"Tommy stepped up," McLellan said. "Probably wasn't completely fair to him to be thrown to the wolves the way he was. It shows his character. He was prepared in practice the last few days; I think he sensed (the start) was coming. Maybe our team rallied around him a little bit, too, for the fact that he hadn't played all year basically and this was his first opportunity. … We're proud of him. This was not an easy game to come into. He did a very good job."
Heatley opened the scoring at 6:20 of the first period when he stuffed a puck in the crease under Boucher's left pad for his eighth goal of the season.
Darroll Powe, who scored the Flyers' lone goal, tied it with his third of the season. Philadelphia forward Mika Pyorala won a puck battle with Boyle along the wall in the Sharks' end. Pyorala backhanded a pass to Powe in the high slot, and his shot beat Greiss over his glove at 9:44.
That was all the Flyers could muster, however, despite outshooting the Sharks 38-28.
"We didn't play well enough to win," Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger
said. "I don't care what the shot totals were, we weren't dedicated or determined enough to get to the net and get those goals. We saw a lot of pucks and we cleared a lot of loose rebounds that were sitting there. These are games where you look back and wish we would have played just a little bit better."
After Malhotra gave the Sharks the 3-1 lead, Ortmeyer finished the scoring with his third goal of the season. Ortmeyer got a loose puck in the left faceoff circle, spun and fired a shot that went under Boucher's arm to make it 4-1 with 3:09 left to play.
Boucher, who spent the previous two seasons with the Sharks, made 24 saves in his first start of the season.
-- Adam Kimelman, NHL.com