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Return Flight: snapping the losing streak in San Jose

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The Captain led the team to a rare win in San Jose

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at San Jose Sharks Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the season, we’ll be taking a walk down memory lane whenever the Flyers open their season series against an opponent. We’ll be remembering a game, goal, or highlight Philly created while playing against that particular team. It won’t always be the most notable memory the Orange and Black have against that team, but it’ll be something that Flyers’ fans will want to remember.

Although they have won two of the teams’ last three meetings, the Philadelphia Flyers generally don’t do too well against the San Jose Sharks. Before a 3-1 defeat in Philly during last season’s 10-game losing streak, Wayne Simmonds helped the Orange and Black beat San Jose twice thanks to a hat trick on opening night last year and an overtime winner in a 2-1 tilt on February 11, 2017. Before that particular overtime win, the Flyers had dropped six straight to the Sharks and had only one win in their last 20 meetings with the Western Conference opponent. The only win the Flyers had in San Jose from mid-November of 1999 to the end of the 2016-17 season was a 5-2 victory on February 3, 2014.

The Flyers’ 2013-14 season was, for lack of better terms, ridiculous. The team opened the season 1-7-0 with only 13 goals scored in their first nine games overall before finishing third in the Metro Division with seven 20-goal scorers. Claude Giroux finished third in MVP voting with a 28-goal, 86-point campaign after he started the season on a 15-game goal drought. There was the 7-0 embarrassment at the hands of the Washington Capitals (which featured the infamous Ray Emery assault on Braden Holtby), Vinny Lecavalier was dragging down a top-six line, and Jason Akeson was a thing. Lost in all the craziness of that season was the 5-2 win against a team they had not beaten on the road since Daymond Langkow had the game-winning goal in a 3-1 decision on November 5, 1999.

After a 2-0 win against the Los Angeles Kings and a 5-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, the Orange and Black were trying to finish their three-game West Coast trip over .500 when they visited San Jose on February 3rd of that season. Both teams entered the game without a few key players. For the Flyers, Kimmo Timonen missed his second straight game with a foot injury. For the Sharks, Logan Couture missed the game while in the midst of a lengthy recovery from hand surgery and Tomas Hertl missed the game while in the midst of a lengthy recovery from knee surgery earlier in the season.

As for the lines, Philadelphia rolled out their typical 2013-14 forward rotation: top line of Jakub Voracek-Giroux-Scott Hartnell, second line of Brayden Schenn-Lecavalier-Wayne Simmonds, third line of Steve Downie-Sean Couturier-Matt Read, and fourth line of Zac Rinaldo-Adam Hall-Michael Raffl. Without Timonen, the defense was Mark Streit-Andrej Meszaros, Nick Grossmann-Braydon Coburn, and Erik Gustafsson (aka The Gus Bus)-Luke Schenn. Steve Mason made his fifth start in a row. It was a wild time around here, but somehow the the Flyers put it together for a key road victory.

GAME NOTES

  • 0:00 - Streit handled the puck at the blue line on the power play before he dished it to Giroux, who handed it right back to Streit for a one-timer that found its way through traffic for his seventh of the season to give Philly a 1-0 lead early in the first period.
  • 0:14 - A little over three minutes later, Matt Irwin gained the red line and slammed a pass off the end boards to Future Flyer Tommy Wingels, who centered a pass to Matt Nieto for his fifth of the season to tie the game at one.
  • 0:29 - Brent Burns did work along the boards before he backhanded a beautiful pass to Nieto, who cut to the crease and beat Mason to make it 2-1 Sharks with 7:28 left in the opening frame.
  • 0:43 - Remember how good Read was in his first few seasons here? Just look at him fly around on this shift.
  • 1:11 - While on the penalty kill, the Flyers kind of forget about Burns, who rings one off the pipe to keep it a 2-1 game with less than four minutes left in the second period.
  • 1:26 - Again, Read used to be pretty good at hockey. Following a draw in the defensive zone, Read led a rush the other way with Downie, who dealt the puck to Read for a far-side snipe from the circle. Read’s 15th of the season came just a little over a minute into the third period to tie the game at two.
  • 1:41 - Raffl gives the Flyers their second lead of the game with his sixth goal of the season just 1:18 after Read’s strike. After a board battle in the corner, the puck finds its way to Gustafsson at the point. Gustafsson’s shot is blocked in front by Marc-Edouard Vlasic, but Raffl is there to clean up the mess.
  • 1:56 - Following an errant Dan Boyle shot, Coburn is able to move the puck up the ice. Eventually, Irwin grabs it but turns it over to Giroux in the neutral zone thanks to pressure from Hartnell. Irwin wipes out and Hartnell manages to stay onside while Giroux walks into the zone and rips one far side on Niemi. Just 3:56 into the final period, the Flyers had a 4-2 lead thanks to Giroux’s 18th of the year.
  • 2:11 - A nice, juicy rebound by Mason.
  • 2:40 - After Voracek poked the puck into the offensive zone, Giroux was able to knock it away from Martin Havlat. Hartnell grabbed the loose puck and drove to the net before he passed it to Giroux, who was at the bottom of the left circle. With a nice move to back away from the bodies in front, Giroux found Voracek streaking to the net to make it 5-2 with 2:16 left in regulation. It was Voracek’s 15th goal of the season.

It was a memorable win for many reasons. First and foremost, the Flyers were able to notch a win against a pretty good Sharks team and did so in a place they hadn’t recorded a pair of points in nearly 15 years. Secondly, it was a 60-minute, dominant 5-on-5 performance for Philly, which was a rare sighting for that 2013-14 squad. The Sharks would return the favor later that month with a 7-3 beatdown in Philly in the Flyers’ first game back from the 2014 Olympic break, but grabbing a victory in one of the places they’ve struggled to win just a few weeks earlier helped to numb that defeat.

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