Flyers lose to Sharks, 8-2, in deflating home opener
San Jose scored four unanswered goals in the first period en route to an easy win over the Flyers, spoiling their home opener. It was the second-worst home-opening loss in franchise history.
Minutes before the Flyers' home opener Tuesday night, Gritty came down from the rafters, and, unlike in the preseason, the furry 7-foot mascot was serenaded with cheers.
The boos were saved for the hockey team.
San Jose scored four unanswered goals in the first period – two 11 seconds apart — en route to an 8-2 victory before a howling crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.
"We sucked. I feel so [bleeping] bad for Moose," defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said, referring to goalie Brian Elliott by his nickname. "We left him hung out to dry. … I mean, it's a little ridiculous."
"All areas of our game weren't good," center Nolan Patrick said. "That's not us."
It was the second-worst loss in a home opener in franchise history, topped only by a 7-0 defeat to Los Angeles in 1971. The eight goals were the most the Flyers had ever surrendered in a home opener.
Joe Pavelski and Evander Kane each finished with a pair of goals and Kevin Labanc had four assists as San Jose raised its record to 10-0-1 in its last 11 games at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Sharks, despite playing the previous afternoon, skated circles around the Flyers in the first period, continually using their speed to get ahead of the home team's shoddy defense. They outshot the Flyers in the opening period, 23-11, and got a pair of goals from Pavelski.
The 23 shots were the most allowed by the Flyers in a first period in almost 10 years. In front of the net, the Sharks continually outmuscled the Flyers, who miss the physicality that injured defenseman Samuel Morin (knee) could provide.
"They got through the neutral zone easily, and once they entered our d-zone, we were on the outside of everything," coach Dave Hakstol said. "And when we were on the inside, we were late on pucks."
San Jose, which was coming off a 4-0 loss Monday to the Islanders, evened its record at 2-2, while the Flyers lost their second straight after a season-opening 5-2 win in Vegas.
The 48-shot assault started early. Defenseman Ivan Provorov had his shot blocked and it created a two-on-one at the other end, where Logan Couture put a shot between Elliott's legs to give San Jose a 1-0 lead with 16:43 left in the first period. The Flyers have allowed the first goal in all three games.
Just 11 seconds after Couture's goal, Pavelski got behind defenseman Andrew MacDonald and knocked in a fat rebound to make it 2-0. The boos started.
Pavelski, 34, who was once Elliott's teammate at the University of Wisconsin, increased the lead to 3-0 from in close to make it 3-0 with 7:39 to go in the session. Kane made it 4-0 with a power-play deflection with 3:18 remaining in the first. The Sharks had been 0-for-11 on the power play this season.
The Flyers, who got goals from Gostisbehere and Wayne Simmonds, will try to regroup when they play in Ottawa on Wednesday.
"It's one game; everybody needs to relax," captain Claude Giroux said. "We're going to go back to work in Ottawa, get a win, and then move on from there."
Kane's second goal of the game, a drive from the high slot that sailed over Elliott's glove, put the Sharks ahead, 5-1, with 5:14 left in the second. It wasn't a power-play goal, but Radko Gudas (seven hits) had just come out of the penalty box and wasn't yet in the play.
The Sharks added a power-play goal to make it 6-1 early in the third period as Tomas Hertl, left alone out front, banged in a rebound of an Erik Karlsson point drive. The lead later grew to 8-1 before Simmonds' late power-play goal.
San Jose goalie Aaron Dell, who played for Hakstol when he coached at the University of North Dakota, finished with 31 saves in his first performance of the season.
The Flyers' home opener last year was also an 8-2 score, a win over Washington, which eventually won the Stanley Cup.
Giroux was sympathetic toward Elliott.
"The fans were booing him, [but] it's not on him, it's on us," he said. "He doesn't deserve that."