SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Just when it looked as if the San Jose Sharks' dormant offense was waking up, their defense went to sleep.
Three Philadelphia Flyers goals in a 2:45 span early in the third period were enough to sink the Sharks' chances Monday night as San Jose suffered a 5-2 defeat at the hands of a franchise it had dominated the past 13 seasons.
Two first-period goals by rookie Matt Nieto enabled the Sharks to enter the third period with a 2-1 lead. But goals by Matt Read, Michael Raffl and Claude Giroux before the third period was four minutes old turned things around and resulted in goalie Antti Niemi being yanked for the fifth time this season.
Read's goal at 1:11 came on what looked like a harmless shot from a harsh angle in the right faceoff circle that clipped defenseman Matt Irwin's stick. Just 78 seconds later, the Sharks failed to clear their zone and Raffl potted the rebound of a shot by Erik Gustafsson. And Giroux made the Sharks pay at 3:56 for a neutral zone turnover by Irwin, bringing Sharks backup goalie Alex Stalock in off the bench.
The Flyers got their first goal of the night from Mark Streit and their last from Jakub Voracek to seal San Jose's fate.
The breakdowns overshadowed a rekindled offense that in the opening 20 minutes matched San Jose's goal total -- shootouts excluded -- over the previous four games combined.
The win was Philadelphia's first over the Sharks since Dec. 21, 2000, but Sharks coach Todd McLellan made it clear before the game that he attached no significance to his team's 13-game streak against the Flyers without a loss.
"It is a long time, but it's different every year. We're not putting anything into that," he said. "Coaches change, players change. In past years we only played them once sometimes, whether it was in our building or their building. There isn't even a story there as far as I'm concerned. It just doesn't exist."
Nieto was involved -- directly or indirectly -- in all three first-period goals.
The Flyers took advantage of a hooking penalty by Nieto and jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 4:23 when Streit's shot from the blue line eluded a screened Niemi for a power-play goal.
But a little more than three minutes later, San Jose ended an 0-for-16 power play drought when Tommy Wingels threw the puck to the crease as Nieto arrived to redirect it past Philadelphia goalie Steve Mason.
The Sharks took the lead at 12:32 with Brent Burns protecting the puck deep in the offensive zone for an extended time, then sending a backhand pass to Nieto as he cut to the net through the right faceoff circle. A quick 11-foot wrist shot gave the rookie his first multi-goal game and the Sharks a 2-1 edge.
Philadelphia had the Sharks on their heels much of the second period, but needed to wait until the third period before their comeback began.
The town of Plover, Wis., is honoring its hometown Olympian and the Sharks' leading goal scorer by declaring Saturday to be "Joe Pavelski Day."
Pavelski, who helped Stevens Point Area High School win a state championship and Wisconsin win an NCAA title, is active in the community as well, operating youth hockey camps and participating in various community fundraisers.
The announcement of the recognition came on the same day that the NHL named Pavelski its third star for the month of January, when he had a league-high 12 goals in 17 games and added four assists. Finishing ahead of Pavelski were Carolina Hurricane goalie Anton Khudobin and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel.
Tyler Kennedy looked as if he might be ready to return to the lineup, but instead missed a third game with a lower body injury. Defenseman Matt Tennyson was the other San Jose scratch.
(c)2014 San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)
Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services