Shark Bait: San Jose spoils Flyers’ home opener in 8-2 romp
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — San Jose went from shut out to blowout in 24 hours.
Joe Pavelski scored two of San Jose’s four first-period goals, and Evander Kane also scored twice to spark the Sharks to an 8-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
Flyers fans were still buzzing from the pregame festivities for the home opener, which included rookie mascot Gritty rappelling from the rafters to the ice, when the Sharks pounced.
The Flyers turned over the puck at the point, Logan Couture beat the odd-man rush and fired his first goal of the season past Brian Elliott. Pavelski made it 2-0 just 11 seconds later when he knocked in a rebound for his first goal of the season.
The Sharks, a Stanley Cup favorite, were just warming up. They had five goals in their first three games — including a 4-0 loss a night earlier to the New York Islanders — and then scored five goals through two periods.
“It’s good to see us come out, 60-minute game, get a little confidence,” Pavelski said. “Guys had some chances, saw some guys score some goals. That goes a long way, getting one early and get going.”
With the Flyers set to play Wednesday at Ottawa, Elliott stayed in despite the miserable performance in front of him. He faced 31 shots — 31! — over the first two periods. Flyers captain Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier missed open looks in the first that might have made it a game. Instead, they heard 20,000 fans voraciously boo them off the ice to end the period.
Coach Dave Hakstol said he should have benched Elliott, who faced 48 shots, after the second period.
“We left him out to dry. He’s our best player tonight,” Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “It could have been 8-0 after the first. It’s a little ridiculous. Some of us really got to look in the mirror on this team. We’ve got to respond tomorrow. When you leave a guy out to dry like that, it’s really not fair.”
The Flyers might want to skip the replay of this clunker.
San Jose got some help late in the first when replay officials in New York awarded Pavelski his second goal for a 3-0 lead. The puck was in play when Elliott cleared Pavelski’s shot until a whistle stopped the action. Sure enough, the review showed Elliott’s glove was behind the line when he swatted Pavelski’s puck and the no-goal was overturned.
“Any time the game kind of gets out of hand like that, it’s easy to relax. That’s when bad things can happen,” Kane said.
Not against the Flyers.
Kane redirected a puck off his skate late in the first to make it 4-0. It was San Jose’s first power-play goal of the season after a 0-for-12 start.
One of the main goals the Sharks had this offseason was improving a power-play unit that ranked 16th in the league last season at 20.6 percent. The Sharks know they have to return to the level they were at in 2015-16, when they ranked third on the power play on the way to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Flyers had the early (furry) candidate for rookie of the year when they unveiled Gritty in the preseason. After some initial confusion over what exactly the wild-haired, googly-eyed creature was, Gritty was embraced and made surprise visits on most major morning and late-night talk shows. On the concourse, the Flyers’ arena host asked fans what they were most excited about for the opener, and it was near unanimous for Gritty. Sure enough, he swung like a pendulum as he descended from near the retired number banners, and the crowd went wild.
Kane added his second of the game and fourth of the season in the second to make it 5-1. Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier and Barclay Goodrow also scored in the third for an 8-1 lead. Aaron Dell stopped 31 shots.
Gostisbehere and Wayne Simmonds scored for the Flyers.
NOTES: The Flyers named Simmonds an alternate captain for the season, Andrew MacDonald will be an alternate captain for the Flyers on the road, and Couturier will be an alternate captain at home. Giroux will again wear the C, just as he has since 2013. ... The eight goals allowed by the Flyers are the most they’ve given up in a home opener in their history.
Sharks: Play Thursday at New York Rangers.
Flyers: Head to Ottawa on Wednesday.
More AP NHL: www.apnews.com/tag/NHL and www.twitter.com/AP_Sports