SAN JOSE – The highlights won’t show it, but the Sharks’ game-tying goal on Tuesday late in the second period by Marc-Edouard Vlasic on a beautiful passing play between all five San Jose players only transpired because of what was happening moments earlier.
The Sharks’ fourth line of Andrew Desjardins, Mike Brown and John Scott took advantage of a giveaway by Flyers forward Chris VandeVelde, and had a physical, energetic and workmanlike shift in Philadelphia’s zone. Eventually the puck ended up on Justin Braun’s stick below the San Jose goal line, and some crisp passing up the ice turned into Vlasic’s marker at 17:44 of the second period. The Sharks went on to a 2-1 win on Matt Nieto’s late goal.
“That shift was good,” Desjardins said. “For our line, that’s like a plus, or getting an assist, because we’re getting the momentum going. It’s nice to see a line come out right after us and score a goal.”
Brown returned to the Sharks’ lineup after a seven-week absence with a broken finger on Saturday against Anaheim, and didn’t have his best night, taking a pair of minor penalties that left his club shorthanded. On Tuesday against the Flyers, though, Brown was causing some noticeable havoc, finishing the night with four hits and helping to get his team out of a first period rut.
“Brownie kind of got it going in the second period. It gave us that shot in the arm that we needed,” Joe Pavelski said.
Todd McLellan was pleased with the fourth line, specifically mentioning Brown’s effort.
"They had some energy,” Todd McLellan said of the fourth liners. “I think Mike Brown's brought that to the table. He's quick, he gets on top of people. Our forecheck in the first period wasn't an asset by any means. It wasn't strong. I thought Brownie went out and finished a couple people and dragged everybody into the game.
“Those guys are important when they do that. … They were very effective and important to our team."
Too often through the first quarter of the season, the Sharks haven’t gotten much of anything from their fourth liners, including Desjardins. Now that he’s reunited with Brown, though, the Sharks could start to get better minutes from that group, as it seems like Desjardins plays his best hockey with Brown on his wing.
“He’s got a lot of energy,” Desjardins said of Brown. “He just goes in hard and finishes everything, so you know the puck’s going to pop out somewhere. Great work ethic and great playing with him, really.”