PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joe Pavelski had a hat trick to move into a tie for second in the NHL in goals and the San Jose Sharks beat the Philadelphia Flyers 7-3 on Thursday night in the first game for both teams following the Olympic break.
Raffi Torres and Logan Couture each scored twice in their return to the San Jose lineup following injuries.
Pavelski, one of four Sharks Olympians, scored all three of his goals in a dominating second period when San Jose outscored the Flyers 5-0. Torres, who injured his knee in the preseason and was making his 2013-14 debut, capped the second-period spree with his second goal of the game with 2.2 seconds left. Couture, who missed the previous 16 games due to hand surgery, netted his 15th goal of the season in the period.
Andrej Meszaros had a highlight-reel tally and Matt Read and Brayden Schenn also scored for the Flyers, who had won four straight prior to taking a 19-day break for the Olympics.
The Flyers netted a pair of goals within 22 seconds of each other midway through the first period to take a 2-1 lead. Meszaros, one of five Flyers who participated in the Olympics, opened the Philadelphia scoring with 9:24 remaining in the opening period. Alex Stalock, San Jose’s backup goalie who started in place of Olympian Antti Niemi, saved Meszaros’ initial shot from the point, but Steve Downie pushed the rebound to Meszaros, who shot the puck between his own legs and past Stalock from close range.
Schenn put Philadelphia ahead 2-1 when he backhanded the puck from behind the net off the skate of Jason Demers and past Stalock with 9:02 remaining in the first period.
But it was all San Jose in the second period.
Pavelski scored from close range on the power play 4:23 into the period and then gave San Jose the lead for good with 9:48 remaining in the period when he deflected Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s shot from the point past Steve Mason that made it 3-2. Mason was lifted 35 seconds later when Couture tallied on a rebound after the Flyers goalie dropped a shot that he initially gloved. Mason gave up four goals on his first 13 shots.
His replacement, Ray Emery, didn’t fare much better, as Pavelski scored on a turnaround from in front of the crease with 5:50 left in the period for his 32nd goal of the season, tying him with Toronto’s Phil Kessel for second-most in the league. Torres finished the second-period scoring by just beating the intermission buzzer with a close-range goal.
The sellout crowd loudly booed the Flyers as they exited the ice following the period.
It didn’t get any better in the third period for Philadelphia as Couture netted a short-handed goal 4:50 into the final period on a backhander in front of Emery. In a rare move, Emery was lifted and Mason was re-inserted into the game with 9:11 left in the third period.
Besides Meszaros, Flyers Michael Raffi, Jakub Voracek, Kimmo Timonen and Mark Streit also participated in the Olympics. Timonen, who helped Finland to the bronze medal, was a healthy scratch to allow him to rest. He watched the game from the press box.
In addition to Niemi and Pavelski, San Jose’s Patrick Marleau and Vlasic competed in Sochi. Niemi, who entered second in the NHL in wins (29), didn’t see any action Thursday.
Demers, Andrew Desjardins and Marleau each had a pair of assists for the Sharks.
NOTES: Before the Olympics, Niemi was 7-3 with a 2.12 GAA in his previous 10 starts. However, one of those losses was a 5-2 home defeat to the Flyers on Feb. 3, a game in which he gave up four goals before being pulled. . San Jose won its sixth straight game in Philadelphia. The Flyers’ last home win over the Sharks came on Dec. 21, 2000. . San Jose came within two of its season-high for goals, set in a 9-2 win over the Rangers on Oct. 8. . The seven goals allowed matched a season-worst for Philadelphia, which lost 7-0 to Washington on Nov. 1 and 7-2 at Chicago on Dec. 11.