Philadelphia Flyers: Good times keep rolling in win over Sharks

(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia Flyers continued their march to the playoffs by scoring their fourth straight victory, defeating the San Jose Sharks 4-2 on Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center.

If you want to be taken seriously, in the NHL or any league, you have to win games against inferior opponents. The Philadelphia Flyers have gotten the memo.

The Orange and Black took care of business as they dispatched an extremely banged-up San Jose Sharks team who is looking forward to hitting the links the moment the regular season ends. The Flyers, meanwhile, are headed for bigger and better things. At least, they will be if they keep playing this way.

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Tuesday’s win didn’t come without its issues, as the Flyers allowed an undermanned Sharks squad to carry a large stretch of the first period, with the teams entering the intermission tied at 1-1. But from there on out, the Flyers played the kind of hockey that they have been for the last two months, ever since their disastrous post-Christmas road trip that got off on the wrong foot against these same Sharks.

Actually, these are hardly the same Sharks who walloped the Flyers in December, with several key players either injured or traded away. And so this set up on the schedule as a potential trap game, as the Flyers have an important home-and-home with the New York Rangers on the docket for this weekend.

But the Flyers played the game they needed to on Tuesday. Just as they recently have against Florida and Columbus, they were effective in their own end (aside from a Claude Giroux turnover that led to a San Jose goal) while receiving a nice balance of offensive contributions.

Kevin Hayes potted a pair for the Flyers, who remain unbeaten in regulation when he scores this season. And Travis Konecny continued his terrific campaign with three points. He’s now up to a team-leading 57 on the season, leapfrogging Sean Couturier, who was held off the score sheet.

The most amazing stat of the night was one that speaks to the Flyers’ struggles against the Sharks over the years, as Tuesday marked the Flyers’ first regulation win at home over San Jose since December 21, 2000. The Flyers won 4-3 that day, with Rick Tocchet scoring a pair of goals, including the game-winner.

Put in that context, Tuesday’s result was a long time coming. But, in truth, it was just another game for the Flyers in their continuing quest to get back into the playoffs as they try to punch their way through an insanely tough Metropolitan Division. Speaking of which, the next stretch will be a critical one.

Following the two games against the Rangers, the Flyers will meet up with the Capitals and Hurricanes next week. That’s four games, eight points, on the line in the span of seven days. It’s yet another critical part of a schedule that never seems to let up for the Flyers. And to their credit, they’ve largely avoided the kinds of missteps that could get them into trouble. They are positioned well at the moment.

Tuesday night was the kind of game that some teams might find a way to cough up, looking past the enfeebled Sharks and paying the price. But Alain Vigneault and his staff have control of the ship, and this group of Flyers players looks like they have fully bought into the plan.

The team’s two newest additions, Nate Thompson and Derek Grant, didn’t particularly stick out on Tuesday in their first games as Flyers. But perhaps that’s a good thing, as their contributions aren’t expected to be particularly great on the offensive end. It was close to an ideal game to ease into their new surroundings.

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Yes, Tuesday’s game had “easy win” written all over, and the Flyers essentially delivered one with only minimal hiccups. But they banked two important points, and that’s all you can ask for. Let’s call it a successful dry run for the stiffer challenges they’re bound to face this week.