Instant Replay: Flyers 5, Sharks 2

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Instant Replay: Flyers 5, Sharks 2

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The last extended road trip of the season ended for the Flyers on Monday night with them picking up a crucial two points on the second-best team in the Pacific Division.

A three-goal outburst saw the Flyers stun the Sharks, 5-2 at SAP Center, giving Craig Berube’s club a 2-1 record (four points) on their three-game, six-day West Coast trip.

It was the Flyers' first victory in Northern California since Nov. 5, 1999, back in the Lindros Era.

Trailing 2-1 when the third period began, the Flyers scored three times on goalie Antti Niemi in 2:45 to chase him for backup Alex Stalock.

The third-period comeback victory was the Flyers' 10th such win this season, establishing a new franchise record.

The Flyers had a very strong second period against Niemi and simply could not find the net, even though they led in shots at intermission, 19-13.

When the third period began, however, they made the most of their chances. First, Matt Read scored off right wing at 1:11 to tie the game at 2-2.

Then rookie Michael Raffl buried a rebound off an Erik Gustafsson point shot to give the Flyers their first lead since the opening period at 2:29.

Sixteen seconds later, Claude Giroux ripped one from the left circle for his 18th goal, making it 4-2. That’s when Sharks coach Todd McLellan yanked Niemi.

San Jose was 26-1-2 when leading after two periods until this game.

Because Columbus defeated Anaheim, 4-2, the Flyers remained fourth in the Metropolitan Division.

Both teams have 62 points, but the Blue Jackets have played one less game (56).

Injuries
Tyler Kennedy took warmups for San Jose and was expected to play, but missed his third game with a lower-body injury.

Win streaks
San Jose had a nine-game win streak against the Flyers coming into the game.

California gold
The Flyers struck it rich early with a power-play goal at 4:23 of the first period. Mark Streit sent a blistering point shot down the center of the ice. It happened so fast, Niemi never flinched a muscle, never saw the shot. Wayne Simmonds was originally credited with a tip, but he went to officials and told them to review it because he didn’t think he touched it. He was right. Streit had gone 12 games without a goal.

Penalties
Nick Grossmann’s interference call gave the Sharks a power play almost immediately after the Flyers scored. Despite the Flyers’ PK units clearing the puck three times, Matt Nieto blew past Luke Schenn down the line and banged home a hard-timing pass from Tommy Wingels at 7:33 to tie it, 1-1.

Speed
Berube talked at the morning skate about San Jose’s speed and it was a factor, too. Nieto came into the game with four goals but scored his second at 12:32 of the first period to give the Sharks their first lead, 2-1. He eluded Grossmann and Braydon Coburn in the slot on an over-commitment, got a pass from Brent Burns, put on two moves and slid it under Steve Mason. No Flyer D-man could handle his quickness. The Flyers' defense is very slow when moving laterally and that’s what the Sharks did to them.

Scoring chances
The Flyers had some very good chances in the first period by Scott Hartnell, Giroux and Matt Read but Niemi came up strong with 11 saves. Hartnell had a terrific rebound opportunity late in the second period, but had to rush his shot from a tough angle before Niemi could get back and ended up shooting wide.

Open net
Gustafsson wishes he had that one back after blowing an open net in the final five minutes of the second period off the rush from the left circle.

Ice breaker
Jakub Voracek’s goal late in the game was his first in eight games. He has 15 goals.

G-man
Giroux had his third game with three or more points in his career.

Special teams
The Flyers were 1 for 2 on the power play. The Sharks were 1 for 5.

Milestone
Joe Thornton’s assist on Nieto’s second goal was his 550th as a Shark.

Faceoffs
Through two periods, the Sharks won 56 percent of the draws.

Scratches
Defenseman Kimmo Timonen (left foot); Forward Jay Rosehill and defenseman Hal Gill were healthy scratches. Gill has sat 21 consecutive games.

AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

Players on American Hockey League contracts will be eligible to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

President and CEO David Andrews confirmed through a league spokesman Wednesday that teams were informed they could loan players on AHL contracts to national teams for the purposes of participating in the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The AHL sent a memo to its 30 clubs saying players could only be loaned for Olympic participation from Feb. 5-26.

The Olympic men's hockey tournament runs from Feb. 9-25. Like the NHL, which is not having its players participate for the first time since 1994, the AHL does not have an Olympic break in its schedule.

The AHL's decision does not affect players assigned to that league on NHL one- or two-way contracts. No final decision has been made about those players.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation report that the league had told its 31 teams that AHL players could be loaned to play in the Olympics. It was an AHL memo sent at the direction of that league's board of governors.

When the NHL announced in April that it wouldn't be sending players to South Korea after participating in five consecutive Olympics, Andrews said the AHL was prepared for Canada, the United States and other national federations to request players.

"I would guess we're going to lose a fair number of players," Andrews said in April. "Not just to Canada and the U.S., but we're going to lose some players to other teams, as well. But we're used to that. Every team in our league has usually got two or three guys who are on recalls to the NHL, so it's not going to really change our competitive integrity or anything else."

The U.S. and Canada are expected to rely heavily on players in European professional leagues and college and major junior hockey to fill out Olympic rosters without NHL players.

With AHL experience, Flyers prospect Nicolas Aube-Kubel out to score again

With AHL experience, Flyers prospect Nicolas Aube-Kubel out to score again

VOORHEES, N.J. — At the junior level, scoring was second nature to Nicolas Aube-Kubel, like riding a bike after you figure out the balance aspect.

Goals came in bunches and points piled up — that was his game and it came effortlessly at times, especially over his final two seasons with the QMJHL's Val-d'Or Foreurs, posting back-to-back campaigns of 38 markers and 80-plus assists.

"Usually in junior, scoring was always coming naturally to me, having points and goals," he said last week at Flyers development camp.

On the AHL ice last season, it was a whole new ballgame. For Aube-Kubel, Year 1 of pro hockey was a feeling-out process from start to finish. His prolific scoring didn't carry over much at all, as the speedy 5-foot-11 winger finished with nine goals and nine assists in 71 regular-season games for Lehigh Valley.

"Guys are better with the puck," he said of the AHL. "I've always been strong on the ice and skating-wise, too, but translating to the AHL, guys are faster, guys are quicker with the puck and less turnovers."

This was part of toeing the waters in a new surrounding. Not many prospects jump from the junior ranks to the AHL without missing a beat. Aube-Kubel, who turned 21 in May, wanted to fulfill his role and duties first before worrying about scoring. He finished the season as a plus-10, tied for fourth best on the team and tops among Phantoms with 70 or more games played.

"I've always been an offensive player," Aube-Kubel said. "From being my first year in the pros, I was trying more to focus on details and what the coach was telling me. I'm excited for next year and I'll try to step up my game, for sure, and try to do what I was doing in junior."

Following his fourth development camp, Aube-Kubel finds himself heading into an interesting second season with Lehigh Valley. A lot has changed since he was taken by the Flyers in the second round of the 2014 draft. With time, the organization has significantly built up its prospect pool and added depth at forward. 

Aube-Kubel is just fine with that.

"Since I've been drafted, there was depth," he said. "Any way I'm going to play in the NHL, I'm going to make my own spot. No one is going to give it to you. If there are more drafted players, it doesn't change anything."

He's also enjoyed working with the Phantoms' staff, led by head coach Scott Gordon. More development off the ice and a greater workload during games should help moving forward.

"I liked it. They treat you like a pro," he said. "Everyone does their own thing. If you cheat or if you're not serious about it, it's you to pay off. If you're not serious, it's going to be you that gets penalized."

If Aube-Kubel needs any comfort in the quiet start to his pro career, he can look back at his first season of junior play. He tallied just 10 goals and 27 points in 64 regular-season games. Then he jumped to 53 points (22 goals, 31 assists) in 65 games in 2013-14 before scoring at will over his third and fourth seasons with Val-d'Or.

Maybe easing his way in is just part of his hockey DNA.

If so, keep an eye on Aube-Kubel next season.

"This year, I was maybe more focusing on having a role and trying to do what the coach was asking of me," Aube-Kubel said. "Now that it's all set, I'm going to focus on offensive play. I don't want to put pressure on myself, but last year wasn't my best offensive year. It was also my first year. I think I was trying to learn a lot of it and we'll see what happens next year."