The Philadelphia Flyers and San Jose Sharks couldn’t have started the season more differently.
The Flyers will look to begin with five wins in six games for the first time in 15 years on Sunday night when they host the Sharks, who have lost six of their first seven.
Though it’s been more of a grind, Philadelphia has seen positive results in the early days of the John Tortorella era. Three of the Flyers’ five games have been decided by one goal, but the team essentially dominated during Saturday’s 3-1 victory at Nashville.
“We’re finding our way,” Philadelphia forward Nicolas Deslauriers said. “We’re playing well. There’s a couple things we’ve got to tune up. … Everybody has everybody’s back.”
Carter Hart stopped 31 shots while Joel Farabee and Kevin Hayes combined for two goals and three assists against the Predators. Hayes has a goal with seven assists this season.
Meanwhile, Hart is 4-0-0 with a 1.75 goals-against average and .949 save percentage, but backup Felix Sandstrom could start after stopping 32 of 36 shots during Philadelphia’s 4-3 loss at Florida on Wednesday.
The Flyers last opened with five wins in six games in 2007-08. That also was the last time they opened 3-0 at home. However, since Jan. 1, 2002, Philadelphia is 4-15-8 with two ties vs. San Jose — and suffered a pair of 3-2 overtime losses against the Sharks last season.
San Jose, though, has totaled 12 goals and scored more than two in a contest just once this season — Thursday’s 3-2 overtime victory at the New York Rangers. While the Sharks have killed 22 of 23 penalties this season, they’re just 2-for-24 with their own man-advantage.
“I don’t want to play desperate hockey,” San Jose coach David Quinn said. “I want to play urgent hockey.”
Meanwhile, the Sharks also have been outscored 16-4 in the second period this season. All of the scoring during their 2-1 loss at New Jersey on Saturday came in that middle frame.
Philadelphia has outscored its opponents 6-2 during the second period thus far.
“Oh, there’s definitely something with us and second periods,” Quinn said. “We can all do the math.”
San Jose’s Kaapo Kahkonen made 34 saves on Saturday to fall to 0-3 for the season.
Teammate James Reimer, 1-3-0 with a 2.78 goals-against average in 2022-23, likely will get the start in this back-to-back scenario for the Sharks, who will look for a split on their four-game trip.
“We’ve got to get ready for Philadelphia and make sure everybody’s ready,” San Jose’s Kevin Labanc, who scored his first goal of the season Saturday, told the NHL’s official website. “We can end this trip on a pretty good note.”
Following a 64-point 2021-22 season, the Sharks’ Tomas Hertl has just a goal and an assist in seven games. However, he’s posted five goals with two assists in his last five games vs. Philadelphia.
Hayes has two goals and two assists in his last three games against San Jose. The Flyers are 35-7-3, including the playoffs, when Hayes scores.
–Field Level Media