Final SO

Series (Game 1 of 1)

San Jose leads 1-0

Game 1: Wednesday, December 8th

Sharks 5

(14-9-4, 32 pts)

Flyers 4

(17-7-5, 39 pts)

7:00 PM ET, December 8, 2010

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1 2 3 SO T
SJ 1 0 3 15
PHI 0 3 1 04

L. Couture (Sharks - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

J. Pavelski (Sharks - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

V. Leino (Flyers - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Sharks-Flyers Preview


It's been nearly a decade since the Philadelphia Flyers beat the San Jose Sharks, a drought they may get a chance to end against the goaltender who beat them in the Stanley Cup finals.

The Flyers could get their first crack at Antti Niemi since that series when the Sharks visit Philadelphia on Wednesday night looking for a second straight win over one of the league's top teams.

Niemi is returning to Philadelphia for the first time since he was among the Blackhawks who raised the Cup after their Game 6 victory. He wasn't particularly sharp in the series, posting a 3.41 goals-against average, but backstopped all four of Chicago's victories.

The Blackhawks let him go to San Jose (13-9-4) via free agency, and Niemi got off to a shaky start. He was splitting time with former Flyer Antero Niittymaki before starting all three games this month, allowing five goals, but it's unclear if he will be in net Wednesday.

Niittymaki lost both of his starts against the Flyers last season while with Tampa Bay, surrendering nine goals.

Niemi made 25 saves in a 5-2 road win over Western Conference-leading Detroit on Monday, but no team from the West has a better record than the Flyers (17-7-4).

Philadelphia, though, has lost seven straight against San Jose and has not won in 11 meetings -- nine defeats, two ties -- since a 4-3 victory Dec. 21, 2000.

Plus, the Flyers are only 2-2-2 in inter-conference matchups. That record includes a loss in their most recent game against a West club and it came versus one of the conference's worst, 3-2 to Calgary in a shootout Nov. 26.

That defeat triggered a three-game losing streak, matching a season high, but Philadelphia bounced back this weekend with wins on consecutive days. After a 5-3 victory over New Jersey on Friday, the Flyers beat the New York Islanders 3-2 on Danny Briere's goal with 5:44 to play.

"It seems we just about always find a way to win," said Briere, who has eight goals in his last 13 games -- four in the past six.

Sergei Bobrovsky was in net for both victories -- he's among the league leaders with 14 -- and has posted a 1.98 goals-against average in his last five starts.

Bobrovsky is among the early favorites to win the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.

"I'm getting used to the atmosphere and the hockey players," the native of Russia said through an interpreter. "It's getting better."

The Sharks are looking to get consistently better. They've alternated wins and losses in their past eight games.

"I don't know when the light is going to go on," coach Todd McLellan said. "They prove to each other on alternating game nights that they can do it."

One San Jose player who has played consistently well of late is Dany Heatley, who has six goals and three assists over his last seven games. He's taken over the team lead in goals (13) and points (28).

Heatley's hat trick keyed a 6-3 home win over the Flyers on Nov. 20, 2009, in the most recent meeting. He's scored five goals in his last three games at Philadelphia.

Teammate Joe Thornton scored Monday after going 10 games without a goal -- his longest such drought since the 2007-08 season.

San Jose wraps up a five-game road trip Thursday against Buffalo.