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Flyers look to continue ascent vs. Sharks

Sportsnaut
Dec 29, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Philadelphia Flyers left wing James van Riemsdyk (25) celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a goal against the Seattle Kraken during the third period at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 29, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Philadelphia Flyers left wing James van Riemsdyk (25) celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a goal against the Seattle Kraken during the third period at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers haven’t let the NHL’s break in the schedule halt their most successful stretch of the season.

Meanwhile, the San Jose Sharks have a shot to win consecutive games for the first time in nearly a month.

Amid a six-game point streak, the visiting Flyers will aim for their third straight victory on Thursday night against the Sharks.

The league stoppage couldn’t have come at a worse time for Philadelphia, which was 4-0-1 in its past five games — following an 0-8-2 rut — when its season was paused. However, even with key contributors Derick Brassard, Scott Laughton and Carter Hart in COVID-19 protocol, the Flyers returned to action Wednesday and rallied for a 3-2 overtime victory at Seattle.

James van Riemsdyk scored twice, including the tying goal with 5:13 left in regulation, and defenseman Ivan Provorov recorded the winner 2:14 into overtime.

“Not too bad for the first game after a break; hopefully we can build (on it),” Provorov said on the Flyers’ television broadcast.

Philadelphia has 24 goals over the past six games, with van Riemsdyk scoring five times during that stretch. Captain Claude Giroux, who recorded his 600th assist Wednesday, has five points over that span.

Martin Jones made 34 saves for the Flyers on Wednesday to extend his winning streak to three games. It’s possible he’ll face his former team in this back-to-back scenario with Hart unlikely to see action.

Philadelphia elevated Felix Sandstrom from its taxi squad to the active roster, but the 24-year-old has never played in an NHL contest.

However, Flyers interim coach Mike Yeo told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he’s “very confident and comfortable playing Felix.”

Jones, meanwhile, could face San Jose for the first time since leaving the club with which he played for six seasons, winning 170 games while posting a 2.66 goals-against average.

The Sharks returned to action Tuesday — 12 days in between games — and pulled out a wild 8-7 home shootout victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

Tomas Hertl scored his team-leading 15th goal while Timo Meier and Logan Couture each had a goal and an assist for San Jose, which squandered a late two-goal lead, only to prevail in the end.

“It was almost like pond hockey,” said Hertl, who has seven goals and three assists during a season-high seven-game point streak. “We got two points, but we got lucky. We can’t play like that.”

The Sharks are just 3-5-0 since winning three straight games from Nov. 28-Dec. 2. They’ve also allowed 30 goals over their past seven contests.

San Jose’s James Reimer entered Tuesday’s contest with a 1.99 goals-against average, but that increased to 2.29 after he matched a career high with seven goals allowed. He has a 6-4-3 record with a 2.50 GAA in 14 career appearances (11 starts) against the Flyers.

Teammate Adin Hill, meanwhile, has yielded 15 goals while losing three of his past four starts.

While Philadelphia has lost its past two visits to San Jose, it posted a 4-2 win in its most recent meeting with the Sharks. Hayes had two goals and an assist in that contest on Feb. 25, 2020.

Meier, who has a goal in back-to-back games, totaled five in San Jose’s past two home games vs. Philadelphia.

–Field Level Media