SAN JOSE, Calif. — Having defeated injury-ravaged Anaheim and lowly Los Angeles to start their four-game road trip, the Flyers have a much more difficult test Saturday night in San Jose.
They will be trying to defeat a Sharks team that ruined their home opener Oct. 9, trouncing the Flyers, 8-2.
The Sharks fired 48 shots and scored all eight goals against Brian "Moose" Elliott, who will not start Saturday. Instead, backup goalie Cal Pickard will make his third start with the Flyers.
Pickard has played in three games and compiled a 2-1 record with a 4.75 goals-against average, and an .833 save percentage.
"Moose has started 10 of our 13 games, so Pic will go tonight," coach Dave Hakstol said after Saturday's morning skate.
In his two starts, Pickard allowed four goals on 35 shots as the Flyers won in Ottawa, 7-4, then was burnt for six goals on 28 shots in a 6-3 defeat in Columbus.
"Pic's a guy who's a battler," Hakstol said, "and we're going to need that type of performance tonight from our goaltender."
Michal Neuvirth, another backup goalie, went back to Philadelphia to be examined by a doctor for an apparent groin injury. He has played in just one game this season.
"Neuvy's got to get healthy…and get there on a consistent basis," Hakstol said.
San Jose (6-4-3) has stumbled lately, losing the first two games of its current homestand, falling to the New York Rangers in a shootout, 4-3, and dropping a 4-1 decision to Columbus.
Interestingly, new Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson has yet to score a goal in 13 games; he has seven assists and a minus-10 rating.
Elliott was sharp in the last two games, beating Anaheim, 3-2, and the Kings, 5-2.
"Everybody is working hard for each other," said Elliott, deflecting the praise to his teammates.
The Flyers (6-7) scored the first goal in each victory. They had only scored the first goal in one of their previous 11 games.
In the Sharks' early-season win over the Flyers, Joe Pavelski and Evander Kane each had a pair of goals, and Kevin Labanc had four assists and a plus-4 rating.
The six-goal defeat is "something you erase. We have so many games during the year, and we got bleep-kicked, but it happens," right winger Jake Voracek said. "We beat Washington last year, 8-2, and they won the Cup. You really can't focus on what happened" in one game.
Ivan Provorov, Sean Couturier, and Andrew MacDonald were each minus-3 in the blowout loss to the Sharks.
"We got beat to every second puck in that game and in almost every zone, but most importantly in our zone," Hakstol said. "San Jose is really good at getting pucks to the scoring area and getting players on the inside, so you have to be sharp and really be competitive in those areas."
Hakstol said his team has "made it a real area of emphasis" in denying opposing players from getting inside position in front of the net.
Provorov has goals in each of the last two wins … The Flyers are 2-4 at home, 4-3 on the road. … San Jose is 2-2-1 at home, 4-2-2 on the road. … Phantoms goalie Carter Hart is 2-2-2 with a 3.77 GAA and .882 save percentage. … Nolan Patrick, the Flyers' second-year center, has had consecutive multi-point games. … Despite their improved defensive play on the road trip, the Flyers have allowed the second-most goals in the NHL this season (50). … After facing the Sharks, the Flyers' trip ends Monday in Arizona, which on Friday became the sixth team in NHL history to score a shorthanded goal in four straight games. Former Flyer Nick Cousins has five points (goal, four assists) for coach Rick Tocchet's Coyotes.