The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburg Penguins had the opening duties for the NHL this season. With no crowd in attendance, the typical pomp and circumstance were lessened but a classic rivalry like Flyers Pens doesn’t really need the frills.
A weird, quiet, and short offseason. Both teams disappointed in the bubble with playoff exits. Now both teams return the ambition to win the East division and make another playoff push. The Flyers especially, finding themselves with more reasons why they should compete over reasons they shouldn’t.
They yielded the first goal of the season to the Penguins, It was a deflected net-front pass that found its way onto the stick of an uncovered Mark Jankowski, who roofed one that beat Carter Hart. The Flyers managed to answer back twice though and showed an early answer to one of their biggest questions from last season.
The Flyers’ power play in the bubble was atrocious. The Flyers only real free-agent acquisition was Erik Gustafsson, and he paid immediate dividends on the 2nd power-play unit. First, he turned a bank pass from Joel Farabee into a quick shot that deflected in off James van Riemsdyk for everyone’s first of the year.
The 2nd goal, which came after Travis Konecny was able to draw a penalty by being his trademark annoying self. Nolan Patrick won a faceoff and Gustafsson and Farabee traded the puck up top and Gustaffson ripped another shot towards the net which deflected off of Nolan Patrick. Both Gus and Farabee would pick up assist #2 on the season and Patrick’s first game back from his migraine induced layoff gets him back on the scoresheet.
Sworn enemy Sidney Crosby would open the scoring in the 2nd period, knocking down an outlet pass attempt from Carter Hart, and flipped the puck into the net. The score would hold at two apiece for most of the 2nd period until Joel Farabee took a pass from Kevin Hayes who was along the half wall. Farabee jumped out front a slid the puck by Penguins goalie Tristian Jarry to end the 2nd with the Flyers holding a 3-2 lead.
Just 3 minutes into the third period it looked as though the game was going to take on a different look. Brandon Tanev beat Carter Hart glove high and it seemed like the goal trade would be on. The Flyers got greedy though, scoring the next three.
Michael Raffl, Scott Laughton, and Nicolas Aube Kubel are the Flyers 4th line and they showed exactly what they can do on the Flyers 4th goal. Raffl and Laughton made a combo block at the blue line and started the counter rush. Laughton slid across a pass to a streaking NAK who jammed a shot on the net. Laughton chased the rebound behind the net, hit a turnaround pass to Raffl in front who made no mistake sliding the puck home.
The next quick-strike counter rush came from the top line of Sean Couturier, Oskar Lindblom, and Travis Konecny. Couturier started the transition and got the puck to Lindblom in front, who jammed the puck against Tristan Jarry and kept it alive. The puck bounced to a loose area as Lindblom got taken down and TK shoveled the puck in for his first goal of the season.
The final marker of the contest came from the Kevin Hayes, Claude Giroux, Joel Farabee line. Giroux his the line with speed and backed off the defense before dishing off to Farabee who fires a shot on the net. Jarry couldn’t pick it clean and left a juicy rebound for Hayes. His goal was the last of the game as the Flyers came away with a commanding 6-3 victory.
The Flyers are still figuring things out. They didn’t have the best game from Carter Hart, but got goals from 3 out of 4 lines, and converted twice on the power play. That and Joel Farabee may just end the night as the league leader in points. A good opening night for the Flyers.
Note the 5th Flyers goal was changed from Travis Konecny to Oskar Lindblom’s after the puck appeared to bounce off of Lindblom’s head on its way into the net.