Simmonds’ hat trick stuffs Sharks in opener

San Jose Sharks

SAN JOSE – Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds was in front of the San Jose net twice on successful power plays to carry Philadelphia past the Sharks 5-3 in the season opener at sold-out SAP Center Wednesday night.
Simmonds redirected a pass from Shayne Gostisbehere eight seconds into a power play in the second period for a 3-2 advantage. After the Sharks tied the score in the third period, Simmonds struck again, flicking the puck past goaltender Martin Jones only six seconds after Kevin Lebanc’s third penalty for the Sharks 9:21 into the third.
Simmonds completed his second career hat trick by finding the empty net with 35.7 seconds to play.
Labanc was as busy on the San Jose side of the statistics sheet, producing two goals and five shots on net to go along with his three minor penalties.
San Jose opens the regular season with five home games, followed by a five-game roadtrip starting at New Jersey on Oct. 20. The Sharks return for another five-game homestand, beginning Oct. 30 against Toronto.
Philadelphia held a 3-2 lead entering the third period before the Sharks converted a power play with 3:12 elapsed. Joe Thornton’s pass from the right boards found Logan Couture along the goalline. Couture’s attempted pass to Joe Pavelski bounded off the skate of Flyer Andrew MacDonald and by goaltender Brian Elliott. Brent Burns earned his 500th NHL point with the secondary assist.
The Flyers took a 2-0 lead in the first period before the Sharks regrouped for a pair of Labanc goals in the final three minutes for a 2-2 deadlock at the intermission.
Philadelphia had a chance to open the scoring five minutes into action when 20-year-old Travis Konecny intercepted a Shark cross-ice pass in the Flyer zone and split the defense to rip a shot at Jones from the high slot. Jones made the save and the game was scoreless for another three minutes.
Philadelphia managed a 1-0 lead 8:28 into action. Jones turned the puck over from the back of the Sharks net when his attempted outlet pass was intercepted by Flyer Jakub Voracek. The winger quickly spotted captain Claude Giroux in the low slot for a sharp one-timer past Jones.
Labanc’s goaltender interference penalty 10:21 into play resulted in a successful visitor power play 55 seconds later. Jordan Weal and Konecny exchanged passes entering the San Jose zone before Weal jammed a low shot by Jones.
San Jose began its comeback on Labanc’s first goal. Defenseman Brenden Dillon sent a hard shot from the left point that Elliott repelled. The high rebound was dropped into the net when Labanc, with his back to the blue ice, whacked the puck home at 17:17.
Labanc added a power play goal with 18.9 seconds left in the period. Elliott had stopped a Shark shot moments before, but Labanc cut off a Flyer attempt to clear the puck by advancing from the left post and finding the right post for the unassisted equalizer.
Both clubs had scoring chances in the second period before the Flyers needed eight seconds to turn a power play into  3-2 lead at 17:36 of the period. As Labanc sat in the box for a slash, Simmonds deflected a long Shayne Gostisbehere shot from the left point by Jones.

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