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Sharks bite Flyers, 4-1

THERE WERE a multitude of reasons why Brian Boucher wanted to win last night's game against the San Jose Sharks.

Brian Boucher allowed four questionable goals in the Flyers' loss to the Sharks. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Brian Boucher allowed four questionable goals in the Flyers' loss to the Sharks. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)Read more

THERE WERE a multitude of reasons why Brian Boucher wanted to win last night's game against the San Jose Sharks.

Not only was it his first start of the regular season - after missing the first few games with a groin strain - but it was against his former club. If that wasn't enough, Boucher wanted to prove himself after a shaky preseason in which he was 0-2-1 with a 4.56 goals-against average while playing against mostly minor league talent.

Oh, yeah, Boucher wanted to win in front of his father, who was attending last night's game at the Wachovia Center as part of the Flyers' annual father-son bonding trip.

But wanting to win isn't the only thing needed to be successful in the NHL. You have to actually go out there and do it.

Last night, Boucher allowed four questionable goals in a 4-1 loss to the Sharks, leaving the Flyers unable to capitalize on a San Jose team that was on the final game of an 11-day East Coast trip.

The Flyers are 0-6-4 against San Jose since 2000.

"All four of them, they were awful goals to give up,'' Boucher admitted. "They were backbreakers. You can't expect to win when the goalie gives up four goals like that."

Even Flyers coach John Stevens put part of the blame on Boucher.

"[He] just wasn't very good," Stevens said. "I think everybody who was at the game would agree. It's tough to win those games when three of the goals go in like that."

Six minutes and 20 seconds into the game, Dany Heatley pushed a puck behind Boucher that was stuck under his pads. Darroll Powe responded for the Flyers a little more than 3 minutes later on an impressive effort by linemates Dan Carcillo and Mika Pyorala, who fed him in front.

But the Sharks bounced back with two goals in the second period to take the game. Manny Malhotra was the culprit both times. Neither of his goals was pretty - a rebound putback and a shot from the circle that didn't touch anything but the twine behind Boucher.

"That third goal was sort of a broken screen," Boucher explained. "But you still have to have it."

Boucher alone can not bear all the burden from the uninspiring performance. Trailing 3-1 for most of the third period, the Flyers were unable to break through the Sharks' heavy prevent defense.

"They really sat back there and forced us to dump and get the puck," forward James van Riemsdyk said. "We need to fight through those bounces. They definitely tried to preserve the lead once they got up by two."

Said defenseman Chris Pronger: "We weren't dedicated and determined enough to get those goals. These are games where you look back and wish we would have played just a little bit better."

The Flyers outshot the Sharks, 38-28, but couldn't break backup Thomas Greiss. It was apparent why Greiss, making his second start of the season, took Boucher's job in San Jose.

The Flyers' comeback bid also was thwarted by penalties. Ole-Kristian Tollefsen was sent to the box just 2 minutes into the third period, leaving the Flyers to focus on killing a penalty instead of chipping away at the Sharks' lead.

Just 3 minutes later - a minute after Tollefsen left the box - the Flyers had a chance to capitalize on a power play. Claude Giroux quickly neutralized that man advantage with a boarding penalty, 34 seconds in.

"When you're killing penalties, it's tough to get offense going," van Riemsdyk said. "It changes the momentum."

Instead, Jed Ortmeyer killed any chance of a Flyers rally with an ugly goal with 3:09 to play.

Defense partners Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen were a minus-3 each and are a combined minus-15 for the season.

"It's obviously not the start you want to have to your season statwise," Coburn said. "I think we've had a couple bad breaks and haven't been able to get on for too many pluses. Hopefully it ends soon."

Pronger is hoping it ends in time for tomorrow night's game in Washington. He knows that everyone, himself included, needs to be better.

"We didn't play well enough to win," Pronger said. "The game was there for us to win whether Ray [Emery] or 'Boosh' was in net. When one guy doesn't play well, we have to pick up the slack."

Boucher promised, "I'll be better than this. You've got to start somewhere. Unfortunately, it's with a loss."

Slap shots

Braydon Coburn (minus-8) has the third-worst plus/minus rating among NHL defensemen . . . The Flyers were crushed in the faceoff circle, losing 41 of 64 draws . . . Last night was Danny Briere's 600th NHL game . . . Ian Laperriere was dropped by the much taller Jody Shelley in a first-period fight . . . You know it's a rough night when the announcement of the Angels' 1-0 lead over the Yankees in the third inning gets a bigger roar than the Flyers' only goal.