Leading up to tonight’s game, it seemed that the Flyers’ fanbase had a consensus feeling that the San Jose Sharks would earn their first victory today. The Philadelphia Flyers did what the Philadelphia Flyers do best and that is play a dominating game, outplay the opposition in all facets, rack up the scoring chances, but lose in disappointing fashion.
The Flyers outshot the Sharks 39-19 but Mackenzie Blackwood had nearly all the answers tonight as he improved to 9-2-2 all-time against Philadelphia. The win ended their lengthy losing streak to start the season as they came into tonight’s game 0-10-1 and had lost back-to-back games where they allowed 10 goals to the opposition.
Anthony Duclair scored in the first 2 minutes of the game before William Eklund potted a 4-on-3 power play goal in the second period to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead. Joel Farabee scored with 69 seconds left in the 2nd to get the Flyers on the board but their waves of momentum were thwarted time and time again by Blackwood.
Travis Sanheim played 27:08 TOI, Sean Walker was second on the club with 23:34, and Cam York, who was benched in the third period of their previous game, played 21:50. Sean Couturier paced the forwards at 22:20 followed by Cam Atkinson’s 21:52 and Travis Konecny’s 21:31. Samuel Ersson made 17 stops, the listless power play went 0-4, and the Sharks scored once on 5 opportunities.
You looked at the schedule and you saw that the Flyers were facing off against the winless Sharks and started to worry that it could be a trap game. The Sharks had lost back-to-back games where they allowed 10 goals against each, they had also only scored 12 goals in 11 games this season, and sported a 0-10-1 record. When asked earlier this morning about the possibility of tonight being a trap game, John Tortorella came back and said that the Flyers shouldn’t even be able to spell trap game.
— Flyers Nation (@FlyersNation) November 8, 2023
He wasn’t wrong as the Flyers had lost 6 of their last 8 games and were coming off the heels of a disappointing 5-0 loss against the Los Angeles Kings on home ice on Saturday. They have been playing well, they’re getting shots on goal, but their anemic power play has really kept them down this season. After back-to-back seasons with the 32nd-ranked power play, the Flyers entered tonight’s slate of games with the 29th-ranked unit that was clicking at just 9.8%.
Sean Couturier reentered the lineup in lieu of Morgan Frost, who was made a healthy scratch for the 7th time this season. The lines were jumbled a little as Couturier was centering Travis Konecny and Owen Tippett, Scott Laughton was centering Cam Atkinson and Tyson Foerster, but the trios of Noah Cates, Bobby Brink, and Joel Farabee and Nicolas Deslauriers, Ryan Poehling, and Garnet Hathaway remained intact. Samuel Ersson returned in goal after giving way to Cal Petersen’s season debut against his former club.
As for the Sharks, they were ranked last in goals per game (1.09), shots on goal (25.3), shooting percentage (4.3%), goals allowed (4.91), and shots on goal allowed (37.6). They also had the 30th-ranked penalty kill (67.4%) but surprisingly a mid-tier power play at 19th (18.2%) and were 3rd-best in faceoffs (53.7%). Tomáš Hertl led the team with 6 assists and 7 points, Fabian Zetterlund was tops in goals with 3 and 2nd in points with 4, and Mackenzie Blackwood returned to the crease with an 0-6-1 record, 4.77 GAA, and a .879 SV%. The former New Jersey Devils back-stopper was 8-2-2 all-time against the Flyers with a 2.55 GAA, .917 SV%, and 2 shutouts.
And exactly how you would have drawn it up, the Sharks jumped on a few turnovers to start the game but a few minutes later they re-entered the zone on an odd-man rush and got the scoring started just 1:43 into the game.
San Jose goal!
Scored by Anthony Duclair with 18:17 remaining in the 1st period.
Assisted by Kevin Labanc and Mikael Granlund.
— NHL Goals (@nhl_goal_bot) November 8, 2023
The Sharks quickly transitioned from the defensive zone all the way to the offensive zone after Ty Emberson started the play. He passed it off the boards to Mikael Granlund who found Kevin Labanc with a seed entering the offensive zone. Labanc made a fake-shot move before finding Anthony Duclair for the one-time finish for his joint team lead in goals at 3.
After a thunderous hit on Sean Walker, the Flyers were unhappy and responded in the form of a fight between Nicolas Deslauriers and Givani Smith with the Flyers heavyweight coming through with a myriad of haymakers before taking him down to the ice.
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights & News (@HockeyDaily365) November 8, 2023
5:24 into the period, the Sharks took the first minor penalty of the game in the form of a tripping minor from Duclair. A frustratingly bad power play could not get set up, enter the zone with ease, or sustain any attacking pressure up a man as they failed to score with the extra man for the 17th straight opportunity.
The Flyers held an 8-3 shot advantage through the first 15 minutes of the period, keeping the Sharks at bay after their early goal.
With 4:56 remaining in the period, Bobby Brink was interfered with by Kyle Burroughs, sending them back to the man advantage. Unfortunately 29 seconds into the power play, Travis Konecny was called for a goaltender interference minor. A melee ensued shortly after Samuel Ersson touched the puck with Konecny and Luke Kunin each getting 2 for roughing as well. The Flyers’ power play put up another zero for the 18th consecutive time.
After a lengthy offensive zone shift for the Flyers, Duclair and the Sharks went the other way with the goalscorer finding himself on a breakaway before being impeded by Cam York, who was assessed a tripping minor. With Konecny and Kunin still in the box for their roughing minors, the Sharks were given a 14 second 4-on-3 power play, which was then followed up by a 30 second 5-on-3 power play.
The Sharks had their chances after Travis Sanheim failed to clear the puck but somehow they were unable to get a good shot towards the net to trouble Samuel Ersson. The puck was in and around the slot or the blue paint but there was a mass of bodies that prevented the Sharks from getting a good look.
With a minute to go, Farabee was set up for a breakaway but was unable to get a shot off as the Sharks defended it well. However, he retrieved the loose puck and drew a high sticking minor on Jan Rutta with 43 seconds left in the period. They fired 2 shots on goal before the period ended as the NHL’s best first period team went down 1-0 after the first 20.
The Flyers held a 13-4 shot advantage, hits were tied at 5 apiece, and as expected the Sharks were up 13-7 in the face-off dot.
59 seconds into the period and with 20 seconds remaining on the power play, the Flyers were called for a too many men on the ice minor penalty. The Flyers survived the kill, keeping the Sharks to the outside and away from the dangerous spots.
The rest of the period, the Sharks were jumping on turnovers that the Flyers were just handing out for free. Defensive zone, neutral zone, offensive zone, it didn’t seem to matter but Ersson had all the answers and did a very good job at restricting his rebounds tonight.
With 5:27 left in the middle frame, Egor Zamula was called for a blatant interference minor as he thwarted Luke Kunin from entering the offensive zone. 38 seconds into the man advantage, Noah Cates drew a tripping penalty as he was 1-on-4 in the offensive zone, tricking the Sharks into thinking he was just going to dump it further.
Noah Cates with a nifty drawn penalty 👀 pic.twitter.com/cWpvxowAME
— Flyers Nation (@FlyersNation) November 8, 2023
The parade to the penalty box continued as 49 seconds later and with 33 seconds remaining on the 4-on-4, Travis Sanheim was called for a holding minor, sending the Sharks’ power play back on the ice for a pivotal 4-on-3.
William Eklund finished a one-time blast with 16 seconds left on the 4-0n-3 to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead. Duclair and Eklund played a little pitch and catch before the 21-year-old Swedish centreman ripped a one-timer through the gaping five-hole of Ersson with 3:42 left in the period.
William Eklund launches one five-hole to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead in the 2nd! 👀🍿 pic.twitter.com/tYWCfgap09
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 8, 2023
With 69 seconds remaining, Joel Farabee looked to have come within inches of getting the Flyers on the board but Mackenzie Blackwood made an unbelievable pad save on a one-time opportunity set up by Travis Sanheim.
The play was under review to see if the puck had crossed the line. At first it seemed that Farabee was robbed by the glove but it in fact hit the arm, dropped onto his pad, and crossed the line.
— Flyers Nation (@FlyersNation) November 8, 2023
Sean Couturier had a glorious opportunity with less than 10 seconds to tie the game but his slot opportunity went just wide. All of a sudden, the Flyers had life after a listless effort over their last 5 periods. They had an 11-7 edge in shots in the period and 24-11 through 40 minutes, hits were still tied at 8 apiece, and the Sharks continued to own the face-off dot winning 25 of 41 draws.
1:25 into the final frame of regulation, Mikael Granlund was called for a holding minor on Nick Seeler in the offensive zone. The power play had one really good chance but Cam Atkinson fanned on his pass to Couturier as they dropped to 0 for their last 21 with the extra man.
The Flyers rode the momentum from their late 2nd period goal into the third period but could not bury one past Blackwood. In a matter of a minute, Tyson Foerster was robbed in the slot, then Garnet Hathaway was stopped on a breakaway just before a deflection attempt rolled through the blue paint and wide of the post. The Flyers held a 12-3 shot edge in the first 11 minutes.
With the period winding down, the Sharks started to smell blood in the water and had a lot of offensive zone time. The Flyers were trying to make outlet passes and alley-oop plays but nothing was working on top of the fact that the ice looked a little choppy. With a shade over 2 minutes left to play, Duclair jumped on a Flyers turnover but his breakaway chance was stopped by Ersson.
With 86 seconds left on the clock, Tortorella called a timeout and brought Ersson to the bench for an extra attacker. I don’t know what it is about playing with the extra skater, but the Flyers look pitiful as the offense comes to a literal standstill. Lots of passing, no one-timers set up, and with one chance to their name with 86 seconds on the clock that’s just not good enough – on top of the fact that they can’t win a face-off.
The Sharks got their first win of the season, they avoided the infamous NHL record to start the season with 12 straight losses, and Mackenzie Blackwood was fantastic against the Flyers yet again making 38 saves to earn his 9th career win against the Orange and Black.
The second game of the California road trip has the Flyers visiting the Anaheim Ducks on the 10th of November (10:00pm ET, NBCSP) in the first set of a back-to-back.
Union Forge Vodka proudly serves as the Official Vodka of Flyers Nation. This partnership celebrates the unyielding spirit of Flyers fans and offers a quality spirit that perfectly compliments the team’s essence. Whether celebrating victories or showing resilience, Union Forge Vodka embodies the winning spirit of both the Flyers and their dedicated fans. Stay connected with exciting giveaways by following @unionforge and @flyersnation across all social media platforms.