Flyers

Konecny nets hat trick as Flyers start 2-0-0, but a crucial piece exits with injury

Flyers

Gritty tossed a big hat onto the ice to celebrate Travis Konecny's hat trick.

The question is will the Flyers need a bigger hat to cover up a Sean Couturier-sized hole in their lineup?

Konecny ripped off three goals Friday night as the Flyers completed a two-game sweep of the Penguins with a 5-2 win at the Wells Fargo Center. They did so without Couturier, who exited the game fewer than two minutes into the action with an apparent shoulder injury and never returned.

Meanwhile, the Flyers have a pair of 2-0-0 starts under head coach Alain Vigneault. The last time the Flyers opened 2-0-0 in consecutive seasons was 1997-98 and 1998-99.

Carter Hart was sharp and Oskar Lindblom sealed the game with an empty-net goal.

Time will tell if the evening ends up being bittersweet because of the Couturier storyline.

• By now, everyone knows that Konecny did not score a goal over 16 games in the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament. When that happens to the team's leading goal scorer from the regular season, it will be highlighted and talked about ... a lot.

Konecny understood why; he's an All-Star now, one of the big boys expected to produce.

He didn't sweep it under the rug and slide into his offseason.

"I didn’t bring my best and that obviously sat with me for a couple weeks," Konecny said during training camp. "I let it settle in, let it bother me and used it to fuel myself for the offseason."

 

Konecny did not let the goal drought linger. He led the way Friday night, which was big without Couturier on his line. The hat trick was the first of his NHL career and he finished with four points.

• The Flyers scored seven goals in three games against the Penguins last season. They had 11 against the Penguins in these two 2020-21 season-opening games.

• The Flyers gave Hart a 3-0 lead in the first period. By the end of the opening stanza, the lead was whittled down to 3-2.

Hart was massive the rest of the way. He had 31 saves Wednesday night and finished with 31 again Friday night. The Flyers were not very good in the second period and Hart bailed them out. Over the first two periods, the Flyers were outshot 24-13.

• Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek all had two assists apiece. Ivan Provorov's goal handed the Flyers a 3-0 edge in the first period as Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan pulled his goalie Tristan Jarry.

• The Flyers' power play went 1 for 6.

• Shayne Gostisbehere remained unavailable because of COVID protocol. The 27-year-old defenseman has not practiced with the Flyers since last Friday.

• Up next for the Flyers is their first of eight back-to-back sets this season. They welcome the Sabres to the Wells Fargo Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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