EditorsNote: adds new first note
Simmonds’ hat trick leads Flyers past Sharks
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Wayne Simmonds probably didn’t have scoring the first opening-night hat trick in Flyers history on his mind Wednesday. However, he will take both that fact and the team’s result.
Simmonds’ second of three goals broke a tie midway through the third period and powered the Philadelphia past the San Jose Sharks 5-3 in the season opener for both teams.
Simmonds completed his second career hat trick on an empty-net goal with 35.7 seconds left. Ten minutes earlier, Simmons made it 4-3 when he redirected Jakob Voracek’s drive past Sharks goaltender Martin Jones, the third time Philadelphia scored on the power play.
“We came out on fire,” said Simmonds, who collected his third career hat trick. “I thought we started really well. We got two goals. Unfortunately we gave two back. We stayed even keeled. And we stuck with our program and what we wanted to do and just kept going.”
The Flyers needed only six seconds after Kevin Labanc was penalized for tripping rookie Nolan Patrick 200 feet from the San Jose goal to convert the tiebreaking goal. Labanc scored two goals for San Jose but committed three minor penalties that were all turned into scores.
“That shouldn’t have happened,” Labanc said, “and they scored off them so I’ve got to be a little bit more disciplined and watch where I put my stick.
“They’re definitely cracking down on the players. Anything on the hands, on the hips and they’re going to call it. It’s going to get better as time goes on, just got to be wary where your stick is when you’re on the ice.”
Logan Couture tied the game 3-3 early in the third when the Sharks converted their second of five power plays.
“Right from the start, every time we got in their end, it felt like we had a chance to score,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. “We got a lot of pucks back, and we had a lot of energy. I don’t know. You’ve got to figure it out sometimes, and tonight we came up a little short on the special teams.”
The Flyers needed only eight seconds to convert for the second time in as many power plays for the only goal of the second period as Simmonds redirected Shayne Gostisbehere’s slap shot past Sharks goalie Martin Jones at 17:36.
“The last three games of the preseason, things were clicking pretty well,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “Tonight the puck went into the net. We had a real good shooting mentality. Scored a couple early by having great net-front presence, one or two passes and putting it to the net, and it was effective for us tonight.”
After the Sharks gift-wrapped two early goals for the Flyers, Labanc went to work to tie the game 2-2 by the end of the first period.
San Jose had a number of close-in chances that wouldn’t go until Labanc backhanded a rebound past Flyers goalie Brian Elliott at 17:17 of the first. Then the Sharks converted their first power-play chance with 18.9 seconds left in the period as Labanc intercepted an attempted clearance and beat Elliott with a wrist shot from the edge of the left circle.
The Flyers opened the scoring at 8:28. Jones’ clearance landed on the stick of Voracek, who found Claude Giroux alone in the slot for an open-net redirect.
Jones was caught deep as the Flyers broke across the San Jose line three-on-two, and Jordan Weal finished a power-play chance with a low shot to the far post at 11:16 of the first.
“Obviously we wanted to get off to a better start,” said Jones, who stopped 26 shots. “Putting yourself down two is always tough. I felt good; I just made a couple of mistakes early.”
Elliott finished with 32 saves.
“The first games of the season you’re always figuring things out,” Elliott said. “Everybody’s going to that next level. It’s not preseason anymore.”
NOTES: Flyers D Shayne Gostisbehere and RW Jakub Voracek each registered three assists. ... C Nolan Patrick, taken second overall by Philadelphia in the 2017 draft, made his NHL debut and registered three shots in 13:30 of ice time. ... Sharks D Brent Burns, the reigning Norris Trophy winner, collected his 500th career point on a third-period assist. ... San Jose continues a season-opening five-game homestand Saturday when it faces the New York Islanders. Philadelphia is back in action Thursday for the Los Angeles Kings’ home and season opener. ... RW Barclay Goodrow, C Ryan Carpenter and D Tim Heed were healthy scratches for San Jose while C Jori Lehtera, D Samuel Morin and D Travis Sanheim did not dress for Philadelphia.