Down a Selke Trophy winner and with their leading scorer from last season watching from the press box, the Flyers beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
While the Flyers were already missing Sean Couturier (costochondral separation), Travis Konecny was benched by head coach Alain Vigneault in a plea for his forwards to play the "right way."
The Flyers answered their head coach early and took down New York late thanks to Scott Laughton's heroics in overtime. As the Flyers bent but didn't break in the second and third periods, Laughton scored 3:16 into OT to propel the Flyers (6-2-1) to their third straight win. Laughton beat the Islanders with an OT goal in the second-round Game 5 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Islanders (3-4-1) have lost four straight games and had the Flyers on their heels a bit in the second and third periods. The Flyers weathered the storm and their fast start turned out to be crucial.
• That's a big-time confidence booster for the Flyers. Konecny and Couturier were the club's top two scorers last season, and the Flyers were able to find a way to beat a team that had their number last season and ended their season in a second-round Game 7 of the playoffs.
New York beat the Flyers nine out of 12 times in 2019-20, including the preseason, regular season and postseason. In all 12 games, the Islanders scored three or more goals.
The Flyers gave up two goals in their first rematch and have a win to show for it. And they did it without Couturier, who was the game's best defensive forward last season, and Konecny, who was named an All-Star.
• Carter Hart, coming off a 33-save win over the Devils, made 26 saves for the victory.
The 22-year-old goalie made a game-saving stop with 2:07 left in the third period when the Islanders had counterattacked the Flyers with an opportunity on the rush.
New York goalie Semyon Varlamov had to make only 14 saves on 17 shots.
• Vigneault's message clearly got through early with how the Flyers played in the first period. They had arguably their best start through nine games, resembling the club that surged down the 2019-20 regular-season stretch.
The Flyers, who entered allowing the NHL's second-most shots per game (34.1), had yielded only one to New York halfway through the first period. They played a north-south style, were quicker to pucks, won more battles and took a 2-0 lead into first admission courtesy of goals from Jakub Voracek and Kevin Hayes.
Vigneault got exactly what he had been pleading for from the Flyers.
• Then the second period rolled around and the never-go-away Islanders pushed back like they almost always do under the stewardship of head coach Barry Trotz. The Flyers learned that the hard way last regular season and playoffs.
Trotz must've given a pretty strong message at first intermission because New York turned into a hungry, desperate team. The Islanders got back to doing what they do best and answered the Flyers with goals from Jordan Eberle and Scott Mayfield.
• Vigneault said postgame that Konecny will be back in the lineup Sunday.
"It’s like a mother or a father sometimes making tough decisions with their children," Vigneault said. "It’s not that they don’t love their children, they’re trying to get them to do the right things. That's what I'm doing with T.K. I want him to play the right way, I really believe that he's a real good player, I think he's in our top three forwards. Like I mentioned before, he’s not the only one right now that needs to play better 5-on-5. Tonight he sat out and I expect him when he comes back to play real strong for us and to play the right way."
• Entering the lineup for Konecny, Samuel Morin played his first NHL game at the forward position. Ironically, his first game came against a guy he had been studying during his move to left winger: Matt Martin.
On the radio broadcast at first intermission, Morin said he actually challenged Martin to fight. Both are big role wingers, so grease and physicality come with the job description.
“I have a lot of respect for him," Morin said. "The way he plays, that’s the way I want to [play] at the forward position. I kind of asked him if he wanted to give me one tonight. Obviously, he said yes, but right now the score is for us. I was trying to go at the beginning but he didn’t want it. At the end, he wanted to go, but we were up by two and I wanted to keep the momentum, so I’m trying to be smart.”
Morin went scoreless in 5:31 minutes. He had a shot in the first period shortly after Martin gave him a good hit.
The 25-year-old didn't see much ice time after New York's second goal.
• Philippe Myers played 23:17 in his return from a fractured rib.
• Prior to puck drop, the Flyers held a moment of silence for Philadelphia basketball icon John Chaney, who died on Friday at the age of 89. Chaney, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, coached Temple for 24 seasons from 1982 to 2006.
• The Flyers and Islanders are right back at it Sunday in Philadelphia (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
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