SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – With a couple of key deflections, Wayne Simmonds helped answer any questions that came up in the preseason about the potency of Philadelphia’s power play.
Simmonds scored his second power-play goal to break a tie with 10:33 remaining and completed the first opening-night hat trick in Flyers history with an empty-netter as Philadelphia beat the San Jose Sharks 5-3 on Wednesday.
“With our power play, both units this year, it’s only a matter of time,” Simmonds said. “We kept working on it and we’ll continue to work on it. Today was a pretty good showing.”
Jordan Weal also scored a power-play goal and Claude Giroux opened the scoring to get the Flyers off to a good start after missing the playoffs last season. Jakub Voracek and Shayne Gostisbehere each had three assists for Philadelphia.
Brian Elliott made 32 saves in his first game with the Flyers after signing a $5.5 million, two-year contract this summer.
Kevin Labanc became the first San Jose player to score two goals in the opening period of the season but also was called for three minor penalties that led to Flyers goals. Logan Couture scored for the Sharks, who had won seven straight openers.
Martin Jones made 26 saves in San Jose’s first game without Patrick Marleau since April 7, 2009. Marleau, the franchise’s career scoring leader, left as a free agent to sign with Toronto in July.
The Sharks were searching for ways to replace Marleau’s 27 goals, and Labanc delivered with two. But his penalties hurt the cause, including a tripping call in the offensive zone that set up the game-winner.
“I have to be more disciplined,” Labanc said. “Those penalties shouldn’t have happened. They scored on them. I’ve just got to be a little more disciplined. I need to watch where I put my stick.”
Just 6 seconds after Labanc went into the box, Simmonds tipped Voracek’s point shot past Jones to make it 4-3. The Flyers needed only 1:09 with the man advantage to score three times on their first three opportunities.
“Tonight the puck went into the net,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “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. It was effective for us tonight.”
Simmonds sealed it with his empty-net goal in the final minute.
Simmonds also scored on the power play in the second period after another Labanc penalty to give the Flyers the lead, but San Jose tied it early in the third when Couture’s pass deflected off Andrew MacDonald’s skate and past Elliott for the equalizer.
Jones got off to a rough start for the Sharks, giving the puck away to Voracek on a clearing attempt. That led to Giroux’s goal to open the scoring. Jones also got caught too deep in net when Weal scored on a rush on the power play to make it 2-0.
Labanc showed why coach Peter DeBoer put him on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski by scoring twice in the final three minutes of the period. Labanc batted a rebound in midair past Elliott for his first goal and then scored on a wrister from the top of the circle on the power play to tie it in the final minute of the first.
“You can’t teach what he does,” DeBoer said. “A lot of the night he was our best player. We played from behind all night and could never get the lead. That’s a bad recipe.”
NOTES: Brent Burns assisted on Couture’s goal for his 500th career point. … The last Sharks player to score twice in an opener was Tommy Wingels in 2014 against Los Angeles.
Flyers: Visit the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.
Sharks: Host the Kings on Saturday.
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