For the first three days of training camp, Travis Konecny’s absence was a touchy subject. Alain Vigneault felt it was valuable time being missed.
In the Flyers season opener, there was no sign of rust from Konecny. The Flyers forward, fresh off signing his new six-year contract, scored twice in the Flyers 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks from O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic.
After an early penalty kill for the Flyers, they capitalized on a turnover to get the game’s first goal. Konecny created a turnover in the neutral zone, went in on goal and scored with a rising shot over the glove hand of Corey Crawford.
The lead lasted just 1:20. A turnover by Ivan Provorov allowed Alex Nylander to go into the zone. He used Justin Braun as a screen and beat Carter Hart with his shot to tie the game at one.
Both teams generated chances in a period where passing was sloppy and the ice opened up late in the period. Through 20 minutes, the Flyers had the edge in shots, 13-11.
Throughout the second period, the Flyers heavily controlled play using a dominating forecheck. Shots in the period heavily favored the Flyers, 15-7. On their first power-play opportunity, the Flyers got a fortunate bounce to take advantage.
Oskar Lindblom fired a shot from the left circle that hit the post. The rebound hit off Blackhawks defenseman Slater Koekkoek and bounced into the net to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead.
With the two teams skating at 4-on-4 late in the period, Konecny made another mark on the game with a great individual effort. After taking a pass in the neutral zone from Scott Laughton, Konecny made a move around Duncan Keith and lifted a backhander past Crawford to make it 3-1 with 1:56 left in the period.
But the Blackhawks would manage to get one back in the closing seconds of the period. With an abbreviated 19-second power play, Patrick Kane was able to set up Alex DeBrincat from the slot for a one-timer that cut the lead to one with just 12.2 seconds remaining in the period.
The Flyers continued to keep the pressure on early in the third and had to withstand some pushes from the Blackhawks. Midway through the period, they managed to restore the two-goal lead with a fourth-line insurance tally.
Michael Raffl carried the puck along the right wing and zipped behind the net. Out the other side, he threw a backhand on goal that went through the legs of Crawford to extend the lead to 4-2 with 10:12 remaining in the third.
The Flyers continued to keep the game under control until the Blackhawks were able to get Crawford out of the net with 2:51 to play. With an extra-attacker, the Blackhawks were able to cut the lead to one.
Kane flipped a shot on goal from a distance and it found the net, cutting the lead to one with 2:07 to play.
Chicago got the net empty again for the final minute, but the Flyers were able to hold on for the win.
Hart finished the game with 28 saves in the win. Crawford stopped 34 of 38 shots in the loss.
Konecny was the only Flyer to finish with a multi-point game. Kane had a three-point game for the Blackhawks and Gustafsson had a pair of assists.
The win was also the first for Vigneault as Flyers head coach.
The Flyers will now make their return from Europe and open play at home in Philadelphia on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. against the New Jersey Devils.
- PHI Travis Konecny (1) (Unassisted) 6:24
- CHI Alex Nylanders (1) (Patrick Kane) 7:44
- PHI Oskar Lindblom (1) PP (Unassisted) 6:28
- PHI Konecny (2) (Scott Laughton) 18:04
- CHI Alex DeBrincat (1) PP (Kane, Erik Gustafsson) 19:47
- PHI Michael Raffl (1) (Tyler Pitlick, Robert Hagg) 9:48
- CHI Kane (1) (Gustafsson, Duncan Keith) 17:53