While the San Jose Sharks are off to a strong start, frustration has already set in for the struggling Philadelphia Flyers.
The Flyers again try for their first victory of the season when they visit the Sharks on Saturday night to conclude a three-game road trip.
Coming off a season where it recorded 95 points and reached the Eastern Conference finals, Philadelphia (0-3-1) is on the verge of going winless through its first five games for the first time since 0-4-1 with a tie to open the 1999-2000 season.
"We play like it's preseason right now," said Simon Gagne of the Flyers, who are one of two winless teams in the league. "We're not ready to play. We don't battle. We don't do the little things right now. We're looking for the easy game ... We keep playing like that, it's going to be tough to win a game this year."
Gagne scored his fourth goal in four straight games and Mike Richards added his third as the Flyers fell 5-2 at Colorado on Thursday, two nights after earning their first point with a 3-2 overtime loss to Pittsburgh to open the trip.
"We got outworked and didn't win any puck battles," said coach John Stevens of the Flyers' most recent loss in which he met with team captains for 15 minutes afterward. "I mean, when you do all the little things so poorly, we ended up being a very easy team to play against."
Philadelphia will likely need to improve on the power play in order to be successful. Second in the NHL converting on 21.8 percent of its power-play chances last season, Philadelphia is 3-for-26 (11.5 percent) with the man-advantage so far.
Martin Biron made 29 saves on Thursday and has allowed 13 goals in three contests this season. He is 2-2-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average versus San Jose.
Facing the Sharks (4-1-0) won't make it any easier for the Flyers to end their slide.
Though San Jose fell for the first time with a 4-0 defeat at Anaheim on Friday, the Sharks have outscored their opponents 12-4 while going 3-0 at home to start this season. San Jose will also be looking for its fourth straight victory over Philadelphia, and the fourth in five contests against the Flyers at home.
Jonathan Cheechoo had a goal in San Jose's 3-1 win at Philadelphia on Feb. 21 in the teams' most recent meeting. Cheechoo leads the Sharks with three goals this season, and has three with two assists in four career games versus the Flyers.
On Friday, Evgeni Nabokov allowed all four goals in the first 20 shots after giving up four total in his first three starts for San Jose, which went 0-for-7 on the power play. The Sharks hope to turn things around after going 3-for-25 with the man-advantage through five contests.
"It wasn't that we just mailed it in. We competed pretty hard and it just didn't go our way," said San Jose's Todd McLellan, who suffered his first loss as an NHL head coach
Though Nabokov is 3-0-0 with two ties and a 1.63 GAA against Philadelphia, he could be rested in this back-to-back situation. Backup Brian Boucher made 21 saves in a 1-0 win at Los Angeles on Sunday in his first start of the season.
Boucher is 0-2-0 with a 4.05 GAA versus the Flyers, the club with which he spent his first three NHL seasons from 1999-2002.
The teams will meet again on Wednesday in Philadelphia to complete a cross-country home-and-home set.
c - SJS
g: 2 | A: 0
Rw - sjs
g: 1 | a: 1
D - sjs
g: 0 | A: 2