SAN JOSE, Calif. – A week earlier, the Flyers left Philadelphia in disarray, their fans chanting for the coach's head, their players looking lost after a one-sided home loss to the New York Islanders.
In a way, California has cured a lot of what seemed wrong in their hockey world.
They failed to sweep all three California teams for the first time in franchise history, but they salvaged a point in a 4-3 overtime loss in San Jose on Saturday night at the SAP Center.
Timo Meier won it won it 13 seconds into overtime, finishing off a two-on-one created when Logan Couture maneuvered around Jake Voracek at the blue line and fed Meier, who whipped a shot past Cal Pickard.
Still, the Flyers left California with five out of a possible six points, including wins in Anaheim and Los Angeles. They finish their four-game trip in Arizona on Monday.
Gaining a point, however, was no consolation to the Flyers or coach Dave Hakstol.
"We should have six out of six; you go into the third with a lead, you should win those," center Jordan Weal said.
"I'm ticked off about losing tonight. That's how I evaluate it," Hakstol said. "I'm not worried about the (previous) two games and not worried about the next game. I don't like the way we lost the game tonight."
After a brief pause, Hakstol added: "But we had a lot of guys that battled hard tonight. That part I like. We came into a tough building and fought for a point; we wanted the next point."
Joe Thornton, a 39-year-old center, scored career goal No. 398 on a high shot from the top of the left circle to tie the game at 3-3 with 4 minutes, 57 seconds left in regulation. Up until that time, Flyers goalie Cal Pickard (31 saves) had played brilliantly.
"He was kicking tonight. He played really well and deserved to win tonight," said Weal, who gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead late in the first period. "We didn't back up our goalie and it hurts right now."
Pickard was happy with his game, except for Thornton's goal.
"He's a pass-first guy, and I thought I was out (and cut down the angle), and he placed it in a good spot," Pickard said. "He swept it a bit. But I'd like to have it (back), obviously. It's a pressure point in the game and you want to close it out in the last five minutes."
With a delayed penalty about to be called, Voracek gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead by scoring from the slot with 30 seconds left in the second period. The blistering Oskar Lindblom set up the goal, giving the rookie left winger five points (goal, four assists) in the last three games.
The goal-scoring sequence started when defenseman Ivan Provorov jumped into the play and was stopped in front by Martin Jones.
"It was a massive goal late in the period," center Nolan Patrick said.
San Jose, which scored an 8-2 win in the Flyers' home opener on Oct. 9, had knotted the score at 2-2 when an uncovered Joe Pavelski took a pass in front from Kevin Labanc and scored into a wide-open net midway through the second period. It marked the seventh straight game the Flyers had allowed a power-play goal.
Early in the third period, Pickard robbed Couture from in close. The Flyers then killed a tripping penalty on Radko Gudas to maintain their 3-2 lead. A few minutes later, Pickard turned aside Joonas Donskoi from the doorstep with 13:20 to go in regulation.
With abut six minutes left, Travis Konecny hit the post, and Thornton answered down the other end about a minute later.
Having lost by six goals to San Jose with Brian Elliott in the nets last month, Flyers Hakstol rolled the dice with a different goalie, giving Pickard just his third start this season.
Pickard was the difference in the first two periods, when the Flyers were outshot by a 26-18 margin but held a 3-2 lead.
Despite being thoroughly outplayed, the Flyers left the ice with a 2-1 lead after the first period.
Pickard, claimed off waivers from Toronto last month, was the main reason as he stopped 15 shots, including point-blank chances by Rourke Chartier, Evander Kane, and Pavelski.
It took the Flyers all of 37 seconds to take the lead – their fastest goal at the start of a game this season.
Breaking into the zone on a three-on-two, Patrick finished off a slick passing play with Konecny and Lindblom (two assists) to mark the third straight game the Flyers had scored first. Before the road trip started, they had allowed the first goal in 10 of 11 games.
San Jose tied the game with 16:45 left in the first as Meier got behind defenseman Robert Hagg and knocked in a goal-mouth feed from Tomas Hertl. It was Meier's seventh goal in his last seven games.
The Sharks were dominant in the next 12 minutes, continually getting free for inside shots, but Pickard had all the answers.
With 3:20 left in the first, Weal put the Flyers ahead, 2-1, as he took a pass from Wayne Simmonds and scored on a spin-around shot from the left circle, putting a high drive past Jones as Dale Weise set a screen in front.
"It was big," Weal said after scoring his second goal of the season. "We know they have a team that likes to come out quick and get a good start. We weathered the storm."
But not the storm that returned late in the game.
Lindblom appeared to injure his left foot when he bocked a shot late in the game. He hobbled to the bench, but said he would play Monday…..Hertl, a second-line San Jose left winger, absorbed a high hit from Christian Folin (five hits) in the second period, left the game and didn't return….Flyers center Jori Lehtera left the game with a first-period injury to his left hand but returned in the third period….The Flyers outhit the Sharks, 28-13, but were outshot, 35-25….Voracek's goal was just his second in the last 10 games….The Flyers conclude their four-game trip Monday in Arizona (7-5), which on Friday became the sixth team in NHL history to score a shorthanded goal in four straight games.