Slumping Sharks visit streaking Flyers after busy deadline

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The surging Philadelphia Flyers will be looking for their fourth consecutive victory when they host the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

The Flyers improved to 21-5-4 at home following a 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday thanks in large part to two goals from Scott Laughton.

Philadelphia will be hoping to build on its home momentum when it faces the struggling Sharks.

The Flyers are 13-5-1 since Jan. 8 with a league-high 68 goals scored and continue to strengthen their playoff position.

“You’ve just got to get to the dance,” defenseman Justin Braun told after recording three assists against the Jets. “It doesn’t matter which seed you’re in. We want to keep driving … but you don’t worry about that right now. You just have to look at the next game and take care of that.”

Philadelphia head coach Alain Vigneault cited the strong leadership of veterans such as captain Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek for the team’s recent strong stretch.

“Those three veteran players are playing the way you have to play to win, and win against good opponents in tight games,” Vigneault said.

The Flyers continue to register key points without injured defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who’s expected to be out again with knee soreness.

On trade deadline day Monday, the Flyers made two deals to help their forward depth. They picked up center Derek Grant from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Kyle Criscuolo and a fourth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. In addition, Philadelphia acquired forward Nate Thompson from the Montreal Canadiens for a fifth-round draft pick in 2021.

The Sharks enter this matchup against Philadelphia on a maddening four-game losing streak.

San Jose was soundly defeated 4-1 on the road against the New York Islanders on Sunday, extending its skid. With the losing and the trade deadline being a possible distraction, the Sharks will be hoping to get back on track against a formidable team in the Flyers.

“There’s always a lot of unknown this time of year,” Sharks forward Barclay Goodrow told the San Jose Mercury News. “It’ll be good to get that over with and hopefully finish strong.”

Lo and behold, in a deal shortly before the deadline hit on Monday San Jose shipped out Goodrow to the Tampa Bay Lightning along with a third-round draft pick for Anthony Greco and a 2020 first-round pick.

The Sharks also traded away veteran forward Patrick Marleau to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional third-round pick in 2021. Marleau, 40, has 10 goals and 10 assists in 58 games this season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

The Sharks ultimately decided not to deal away veteran Joe Thornton, who reportedly drew plenty of interest from the Boston Bruins.

Injuries have derailed the Sharks over the past 17 games, as they’ve gone 7-10-0. Logan Couture has been out for the last 17 games with a fractured ankle. Tomas Hertl (knee) and Erik Karlsson (thumb) were previously ruled out for the season.

In addition, Evander Kane was disciplined with a three-game suspension, and the team dealt defenseman Brenden Dillon to the Washington Capitals.

The result has been a team looking for an identity in the ultra-talented Western Conference. The Sharks have missed the playoffs only one time since 2003.

“With the personnel that we have in there right now, we have to almost play a perfect or a near-to-perfect game when you’re only scoring one or two a night,”Sharks interim head coach Bob Boughner said. “It’s not for a lack of effort, it’s not for a lack of compete, it’s not for a lack of chances.”

–Field Level Media

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