Sharks 3 (13-8-2, 28 PTS) @ Flyers 1 (8-10-7, 23 PTS)
In the midst of a season-long eight-game losing streak, the Flyers looked to close out the tumultuous month of November on a positive note with their first win in seventeen days. At home, Philadelphia has been winless since November 9th, a 3-1 victory over Chicago. Since then, they have lost the next four contests on home ice. Michal Neuvirth got the call in between the pipes — his first action since getting pulled against Vancouver one week ago. With Martin Jones forced out with an injury, Aaron Dell got the nod as Neuvirth’s counterpart this evening.
Speaking of Aaron Dell, it didn’t take long for the Flyers’ offense to welcome him into the game on Hockey Fights Cancer night at the Wells Fargo Center. When your team is losing, there is no better player to step up than your captain. Claude Giroux stepped up to the plate just 48 seconds into the game to give the home team the early lead. Giroux found himself all alone on the back post and made no mistake with the puck off a gorgeous feed from his linemate Jake Voracek.
This is how you start a hockey game pic.twitter.com/8ck1WsMbac
— Flyers Nation (@FlyersNation) November 29, 2017
The lead lasted almost 11 minutes before San Jose got on the board and tied the game up. After some sustained pressure in the offensive zone, Philadelphia cleared the puck out to the neutral zone to make a change, but before the Flyers knew it, the Sharks were already bearing back down on them. Chris Tierney picked up a pass from Brent Burns on the rush and fired home a wrist shot past Neuvirth from the right faceoff circle. Tierney did an excellent job of looking off the shot before pulling the trigger. The puck ran up Travis Sanheim’s stick and beat Neuvirth short side.
— Nirmalla (@nirmalla_hb) November 29, 2017
The same issues that have been plaguing the Flyers the entire losing streak keep coming back to haunt them. Philadelphia found themselves on the penalty kill three separate times, and San Jose made them pay on their third go at it. On a 5-on-3, Joe Thornton beat Neuvirth with a weak wrist shot through the five hole to give the Sharks a late period lead.
JOE THORNTON FROM THE TIGHT ANGLE! 2-1 SHARKS! pic.twitter.com/EAiNZPmHyo
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) November 29, 2017
Despite opening the scoring, San Jose drove play for the majority of the first period. But it’s not like Philadelphia didn’t have any chances of their own. They had two separate 2-on-1’s, hit each post once and forced Dell into some tough saves. San Jose headed into the tunnel with a deserved lead at 2-1, and leading in shot attempts 12 to eight.
The 2nd period started the way the first ended, with the Sharks controlling play and hemming the Flyers deep in their zone. Philadelphia killed off an early power play, but still had trouble getting the puck out of their own zone. Dale Weise drew a hooking penalty on a breakaway, but the man advantage was negated just :09 into the power play when Voracek tripped a Sharks player and earned a visit to the penalty box. If this team is going to have any success this season, they’re going to have to learn how to discipline themselves incredibly fast.
With under four minutes to play in the period, San Jose extended their lead to two on a goal from Marc-Edouard Vlasic. After controlling play all period, their work was rewarded. Vlasic’s wrist shot from the point floated through traffic and somehow found it’s way past Neuvirth. The Flyers goaltender couldn’t pick up the puck as he was fighting a screen and by the time he found the puck, it was already behind him. After two periods, the Flyers found themselves trailing by a pair of goals and they got booed off home ice.
Vlasic's shot goes right through the defense past Neuvirth pic.twitter.com/9EgcJyCaXM
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) November 29, 2017
Coming into the third and final period, the Flyers desperately needed to come out with some fire and spark. But sadly, that was not the case and San Jose ensured the losing streak would reach nine games. Coming off an emotional, rivalry game last night, this game was always going to be tough being a back-to-back. Besides the first minute, Philadelphia really never showed a real interest in the game. Halfway through the third period, they tallied only a single shot. That’s utterly unacceptable. There isn’t much else you can say about this team that hasn’t been said during this stretch of losses.
Philadelphia finished the month of November with a record of 2-5-6, a whopping 10 points out of a possible 26. Rough month to say the least.
Throughout the game, chants of “Fire Hakstol” rang out inside the Wells Fargo Center and they only got louder and louder as the game went on. General Manager Ron Hextall may have some decisions to make about his team in the coming days.
The one positive of this team has to be the first line. Giroux and Voracek notched another point each tonight and Sean Couturier has really flourished with these two on his wings. He has been gaining some serious momentum as an early season Selke Trophy candidate.
Flyers vs Boston: 12/1/17 @ 1:00 P.M.