PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Travis Konecny had a hat trick and the Philadelphia Flyers survived losing team MVP Sean Couturier to an injury in a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.
Ivan Provorov scored and Oskar Lindblom added an empty-netter for the Flyers.
The Flyers swept their rival in the two-game home set, but can only hope they won’t lose Couturier for extended time. Couturier became the first Flyers player in 33 years to win the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward. Couturier was plowed into the boards and may have hurt his left shoulder. He left after just two shifts and 45 seconds. He scored 22 goals last season and was voted team MVP.
The Flyers, who won 6-3 on Wednesday, appeared to have an easy time, even with Couturier out. Konecny scored a power-play goal 7:27 into the game and added a second two minutes later when he crashed the net and pounded in a rebound.
Provorov made it 3-0 on a slap shot from the circle, and that was enough to chase goalie Tristan Jarry. Jarry allowed three goals on only six shots and was benched in favor of Casey DeSmith.
DeSmith held the Flyers in check while the Penguins rallied against Carter Hart. Sidney Crosby and Brandon Tanev, who scored in the opener, had goals in the first, cutting it to 3-2.
Crosby scored his 45th goal against the Flyers, his most against any team. Mario Lemieux (51) and Jaromir Jagr (47) are the only Penguins to score more goals against the Flyers.
The Flyers took only four shots in the second period and played sloppy and out of sync following the fast first 10 minutes.
“We can’t be giving up a 3-0 lead that easy,” Konency said.
The 23-year-old Konecny needed those goals as a confidence boost in the wake of a dreadful postseason in which he failed to score in 16 games. He led the Flyers with 24 goals in the regular season and was stumped when his scoring dried up in two postseason rounds.
He found the touch against Pittsburgh and scored his first career hat trick — with no fans in the arena, Gritty tossed an oversized hat on the ice — with 7:07 left in the game.
“Yessir!!! Hat trick! TK 11,” Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper posted on Instagram.
Flyers D Shayne Gostisbehere and Penguins F Kasperi Kapanen sat out for COVID-related reasons. Kapanen could rejoin the Penguins on Sunday.
“We’re certainly excited and encouraged that we’re going to get him with the team here fairly shortly,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We’re going to try to assimilate him into the group as quickly and as effectively as we can.”
Penguins defenseman Zach Trotman underwent surgery on his right knee Thursday to repair a torn meniscus and is expected to miss four to six weeks.
Penguins: Head home for a two-game set against Washington. Home opener Sunday and the second game on Tuesday.
Flyers: Host Buffalo on Monday and Tuesday.
“It looks almost like a semi-playoff series,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said Friday.
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