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Sharks Hammer Philadelphia, Win 6-1

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks

The Sharks hosted the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night and outplayed their guests from the opening faceoff until the final buzzer defeating the Flyers 6-1.

Starting goaltenders Vesa Toskala and Philadelphia’s Robert Esche settled in before a sellout crowd at HP Pavilion on Sat night, yet it was Esche who needed to be on his game early.

The Sharks broke through early, peppering Esche and carrying much of the play, as Patrick Rissmiller opened the scoring at 2:36, on assists from Ville Nieminen and Marcel Goc. The pressure continued in the Flyers end and Milan Michalek lit the lamp just over two minutes later on a beautiful feed from Joe Thornton.

Streaking to the far left post, the Czech winger fought off a backchecking attempt and re-directed a perfect Thornton strike for his ninth of the season, extending his career-high point scoring streak to seven games. Also picking up an assist was Kyle McLaren, his second assist in as many games.

Though it took the Flyers several minutes to register their first shot on net, their first one went in at 8:16 as Geoff Sanderson roofed a shot over a sliding Toskala.

At 10:24, off a beautiful chip pass from Curtis Brown, Mike Grier found himself on a breakaway as he crossed the blueline. The big winger froze Esche and snapped a wrist shot over the glove hand.

Toskala made a highlight reel save off a shot by Derian Hatcher. After a goal mouth scramble with bodies flying everywhere, the puck squirted out to the point where Hatcher made a quick move into scoring position and fired off a wrist shot ticketed for the upper corner. His attempt however was stopped by Toskala’s goalie stick which the Sharks netminder thrust upward from a prone, pad stack position.

The Sharks held an 11-5 advantage in shots after the first stanza.

The Flyers came out in the second period with a spark that was lacking in the first period, carrying the early action in the Sharks end. Toskala was sharp, turning aside several quality scoring chances.

When San Jose took to their first power play of the night, the struck for goal number four. It took almost 1:40 of controlling the puck in the zone before Kyle McLaren dipped down low and while completely uncovered, beat Esche top shelf on the short side.

Goal five would come midway through the second courtesy of Ryane Clowe. Marleau skated the puck across the blue line and, after attracting two defenders, dropped a blind pass to Clowe. He then perfectly placed his shot into the back of the net.

Clowe would turn into the playmaker when the score became 6-1. This time he carried the puck deep down the left wing and centered an open Curtis Brown in the slot. He ripped his shot upstairs and dealt the final blow to Esche who was sent to the showers in place of Antero Niittymaki.

When the second came to a close, Team Teal had scored six times on just 19 aashots.

The two teams played cautious hockey for the first nine minutes of the third, when Thornton’s line provided the Sharks with their first scoring chance of the period.

NOTES: RW Jonathan Cheechoo was held out of the game with a minor leg injury and is listed as day-to-day…G Thomas Greiss was re-assigned to Fresno after being called up last night as an insurance policy as Evgeni Nabokov suffered a sore hand after making one of his 40 saves on Wednesday night…Flyers defenseman Mike Rathje returned for the first time since departing the Sharks after the 2003-04 season. The hulking winger played 671 games with San Jose after being drafted by the Sharks in the first round (3rd overall) in 1992.

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