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Sharks drop season opener
Labanc's lows outweigh highs in opening night loss
10/4/17 - By Mike Lee -

The post-Patrick Marleau era began in San Jose on Wednesday night as the Sharks kicked off the 2017-18 NHL season with a 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. San Jose will lean on several young players to pick up the slack that was created with Marleau's departure. Kevin Labanc tried to fill some of that void by scoring a pair of goals for San Jose, but his inexperience cost the Sharks in the form of three penalties that turned into Flyer goals.

Labanc helped the Sharks battle back from a 2-0 deficit by scoring his first and second goals of the season to close out a wild 1st period. The youngster looked as if the Sharks would easily forget Marleau, but his lack of discipline exposed a Sharks penalty kill that would surrender three goals on five extra skater chances.

Philadelphia jumped out to a 1-0 lead 8:28 into the contest when Claude Giroux converted on a horrible turnover by Sharks goaltender Martin Jones. The Flyers dumped the puck behind the Sharks net, and Jones tried to play a pass to the left wing boards, but he ended up feeding Jakub Voracek who quickly found Giroux in front of the net for an easy deposit.

Jordan Weal made it a 2-0 game with a shot from the right dot on the rush as Labanc sat in the penalty box for goaltender interference. Rather than setting up a typical power play offense, Weal took a Travis Koneckny feed on the right side and snapped a shot past Jones. The Sharks goaltender looked unprepared for the shot, which flew past his left shin.

Labanc atoned for this first penalty by scoring his 1st goal of the season by swatting a waist high puck out of the air with a backhand chance that punched past Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott with 2:43 left in the opening frame.

The youngster would tie the game with 19 seconds left in the period. Brandon Manning gave the Sharks a power play late in the frame, but the Sharks primary special teams unit was lifeless. The second unit got the job done when Labanc intercepted a clearing attempt at the blueline before skating to the top of the left circle and snapping a shot that beat Elliott.

The 2nd period was relatively mundane in comparison to the goal-fest in the first 20 minutes of play. San Jose out-shot the Flyers 13-6 in the period, but a Labanc slashing penalty would setup another power play goal for Philadelphia.

Wayne Simmonds was the benefactor of a Shane Gostisbehere shot on the ensuing power play. Gostisbehere's shot clipped Simmonds shin guard before redirecting into the Sharks net for the 3-2 lead.

San Jose re-tied the game 3:12 into the 3rd period with a power play goal of their own. Logan Couture tried centering the puck to Mikkel Boedker in the front of the net with a backhand pass from behind the right post. The puck hit defenseman Andrew MacDonald in the skate and redirected past Elliott.

San Jose looked poised to grab their first lead of the night by turning up the heat on Elliott, but chances by Joe Pavelski and Boedker narrowly missed.

All of Labanc's offfensive heroics in the 1st period where forgotten when he took a third penalty 9:21 into the final period. The Sharks penalty kill proved consistently terrible when they surrendered a 3rd goal 6 seconds into Labanc's infraction.

Once again, Simmonds parked himself in front of the Sharks net and converted. This time, but redirecting a Voracek shot with his stick blade with 10:33 left in regulation.

All the adrenaline of an opening night game seemed nonexistent over that final 10 minutes. San Jose couldn't apply the pressure necessary to generate the equalizer. In fact it was Philadelphia who seemed more intent on keeping pucks flowing toward Jones. The Flyers out-shot San Jose 17-11 in the period.

Pavelski did little all night, but got his name on the scoresheet when he took a high sticking penalty with 2:21 left in regulation. The misdeed all but killed any chance for a comeback.

Simmonds sealed the deal with an empty net goal late. The tally earned Simmonds his 2nd career hat trick. It was the first 3-goal performance on opening night in Flyers team history.

Game Notes:

* The Sharks were outdone in just about every statistical category in the game. The Flyers were better hits, giveaways, and faceoff wins.

* Timo Meier and Joonas Donskoi, two of the young players the Sharks are looking to have breakout seasons, were the only San Jose players left without a shot on goal.

* Logan Couture, Kevin Labanc and Brent Burns led the Sharks with 5 shots each.


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1 2 3 T
PHI 2 1 2 5
SJ 2 0 1 3
1st period - 1, PHI, Giroux 1 (Voracek), 8:28. 2, PHI, Weal 1 (Konecny, Gostisbehere), 11:16, (pp). 3, SJ, Labanc 1 (Dillon, Pavelski), 17:17. 4, SJ, Labanc 2 (unassisted), 19:41, (pp).
2nd period - 5, PHI, Simmonds 1 (Gostisbehere, Voracek), 17:36, (pp).
3rd period - 6, SJ, Couture 1 (Thornton, Burns), 3:12, (pp). 7, PHI, Simmonds 2 (Voracek, Gotisbehere), 9:27, (pp). 8, PHI, Simmonds 3 (Couturier), 19:24, (en).
1st period - Labanc, SJ (interference on goaltender), 10:21; Manning, PHI (hooking), 18:09.
2nd period - Hagg, PHI (tripping), 0:51; MacDonald, PHI (cross checking), 7:44; Labanc, SJ (slashing), 17:28; Gudas, PHI (interference), 18:50.
3rd period - Koneckny, PHI (hooking), 2:37; Labanc, SJ (tripping), 9:21; Karlsson, SJ (interference), 15:05; Pavelski, SJ (high sticking), 17:39; Gudas, PHI (boarding), 18:54.
Shots Saves
PHI - Elliott 35 32
SJ - Jones 30 26
SJ - empty net 1 0
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
PHI 8 6 17 31
SJ 11 13 11 35
Power Play Conversion
PHI 3 of 5
SJ 2 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Wayne Simmonds
Brian Elliott
Jakub Voracek
SAP Center - 17,562
Referees: Pollock, McIssac. Linesmen: Brisebois, Kovachik.
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