TK Hatty Powers Flyers over Penguins, 5-2
On a night that saw the Philadelphia Flyers lose Selke Trophy winning center Sean Couturier to a shoulder injury early in the first period and Philadelphia hemmed in their own zone for much of the first two periods at 5-on-5, a Travis Konecny hat trick and assist along with a stellar goaltending performance by Carter Hart keyed the Flyers to a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday evening.
The Flyers opened the season with 6-3 and 7-2 victories over the Penguins, although never were textbook performances. Two power play goals, a four-point effort (1g, 3a) by Joel Farabee and tallies by six different Flyers were the difference in the opener on Wednesday. The common thread in both games was that the Flyers were opportunistic.
Konecny's power play and two even strength goals (1st, 2nd and 3rd) were supplemented by Ivan Provorov's 1st goal of the season and an Oskar Lindblom empty-net goal (2nd). Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk collected two assists apiece, while Hayes had a nifty primary assist on the third Konecny goal and Scott Laughton got the puck to Lindblom for the eventual empty-netter.
The Flyers built a quick 3-0 lead but saw it nearly evaporate with closely spaced power play and even strength goals, respectively, by Sidney Crosby (2nd) and Brandon Tanev (2nd). Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust assisted on the Crosby goal, while Jarden McCann and Mark Jankowski earned assists on the Tanev goal.
A big part of what makes Hart something special, especially for a young goalie, is how unflappable he is in the face of adversity. He gets reset right away, after after giving up two goals in quick succession. Hart was THE biggest difference in why the Flyers got the game to the third period still leading, 3-2.
The third period wasn't pretty from a statistical standpoint -- the Pens' by far had the better puck possession numbers -- but Philly did a better job structurally and usually stayed on the right side of the puck. A counterattack goal (Konecny) and empty netter later, and the Flyers had a second straight regulation win in the bank.
Tristan Jarry had a rough outing in the opener on Wednesday, and a very short night in the return match. He lasted just 11:30 into the first period, stopping three of six shots. None were soft goals but Jarry had bad body language and seemed vulnerable even before Provorov scored to make it 3-0. Casey DeSmith stopped 12 of 13 shots the rest of the way, being pulled for an extra attacker before the Lindblom empty netter.
Couturier's right shoulder went into the boards awkwardly on his second shift of the game on a routine hit by McCann. He will undergo an MRI on Saturday, per head coach Alain Vigneault. Later, in the second period, the Flyers took exception to an elbow that McCann threw at defenseman Travis Sanheim as Sanheim cleared the puck down the ice.
For more on Friday's win, including stats, analysis and video highlights, click here
Thank you, as always, to Brian Smith and Alexandra Samuelsson for the transcriptions of the postgame media availability. It was especially helpful for me last night because my Webex app conked out twice and I had to log in via my cell phone while rebooting my computer.
Alain Vigneault (Flyers head coach)
What’s the update with Sean Couturier? And can you talk about how the team rallied without him tonight?
Coots will get an MRI tomorrow on his shoulder. I’ll know more in the next couple days. That’s all I have as far as an update for you right now. We lost him his first or second shift. I think his second shift it was. Down to eleven forwards. I thought tonight’s game, there’s no doubt that Carter Hart is the difference. I’m not going to apologize for good goaltending. Carter was the difference tonight. I thought in the third period when the game was on the line, we played our best hockey of the night. That for me was a very positive sign.
Can you talk about the team and the way they rallied without Sean in the lineup?
Everybody knows that he’s a big part of our team, but at the end of the day, injuries are part of the game. It’s next man up and who can come up and play. That’s what we did when we got down to eleven forwards. I think for us tonight, playing the same team back to back. They had lost the first game. They had played well also, but you can tell that they came out with more spunk and very physical. I thought for the first two periods, they had the better of the scoring opportunities. Carter was the difference. In the third with the game on the line and us up by one, I thought we played some solid hockey and spent more time in their end. We were able to get the win and win the third period.
Given the circumstances with Coots going out, is this the sort of game where you need your best players to step up and carry the load?
There’s no doubt. You’re playing against a team that has got a lot of experience and has got star players. A team that has a lot of pride. You knew they were going to come out and be feisty, which they were. They played hard. They played a good game. Carter made some very good saves. We were able to capitalize on some of our looks by doing the right things on the ice, by going to the net, stopping in front, and getting to those second opportunities. Injuries are part of the game. Somebody else is going to step in like we did tonight. Somebody else is going to have to play well for us.
Given the unusual circumstances of the season and the offseason, are keeping a closer eye on the minutes each of your players are playing? Are you monitoring it a little more closely, given the circumstances?
Considering the condensed schedule and the fact that all the games are all in critical importance, we’re monitoring everything right now. Our conditioning guys are looking at the loads and are looking at the science. We’re going to take an important look at all the minutes of our four lines and our six Ds to make sure our guys are in the best possible condition at all times.
How important was it for TK to get the hat trick, not only for the team tonight but for his own confidence? Do you get the sense of what went wrong in the playoffs last year?
What I can say about TK is that this is a new season, a clean slate for everyone. He’s come here with the right mindset and the best of intentions. Tonight by going to the net hard, stopping and being at the right spot, he found a way to capitalize on some of his opportunities. It’s a step forward for him. Hopefully it’s a good step for his confidence. He’s a big player and important player for our team. We need him to play well.
Mike Sullivan (Penguins head coach)
You pulled Tristan after the first three goals. How much can the start of this game be pinned on him? What concerns do you have with him and the start of his season to this point?
I don’t think games can be pinned on any one person. We win as a team, we lose as a team. That’s the way we look at it as a coaching staff. As far as Tristian’s start to the season, it’s tough when you’ve given up that amount of goals and not a lot of shots or chances, but in his defense, some of the chances were high quality and you have to give Philadelphia credit. They converted on the opportunities they got. I thought we were the better team tonight and we couldn’t convert on ours and I thought they were on opportunistic on their side.
I thought Malkin looked great in training camp, it looked like he had his legs, but that hasn’t really transferred over performance wise in the first two games, at least production wise. What do you see from his game and do you see any concerns with him?
No, I’m not concerned. We’re two games in. Geno is a good player. We know he is. I think when Geno doesn’t score, he tends to be hard on himself, and we’re just going to encourage him to just keep playing the game hard. Keep playing the right way. You get an opportunity to shoot the puck, shoot the puck. I’m not concerned about Geno. He is a terrific player.
To take that point a little farther, some of your best players have not been your best players through these first few games. Is that cause for concern in general and do you do something or just stay patient and believe they will get things going in the right direction?
I’m not sure who is making that assessment. Is that your assessment? That our best players aren’t our best players? These guys have had a number of chances. The puck didn’t go in the net for them. I know they’re working hard. I thought tonight we played with a lot of emotion. We had a lot of energy. I thought we controlled a lot of territory. I believe these guys will score. They’re talented players. It didn’t go in for us tonight, but certainly there was a lot to like in this game.
I know it’s two games in, small sample size here, but what are the immediate adjustments you want to see from your guys when you head into the next series when you come back home here?
We’ve got to make sure we learn from the experience. A lot of it just boils down to decision making and making sure we make good decisions at critical moments in the game, so we give ourselves the best chance to win. That’s just part of the process. We’ll try to learn from this experience. Like I said, I said to the guys after the game, I thought they played really hard. I thought we had a ton of energy. I thought we played with a lot of emotion. We just got to stay with it here. We’ve got to stick together and stay with it.
Bryan Rust used the words snowballing and maybe need a little bit more pushback. I’m curious because that used to be a thing that you preached a lot and pushed a lot. Do you think your team is lacking that right now and how do you get it back?
No, I don’t think we’re lacking that. I thought we had a lot of push back. We got down 3-0 early in the game. We fight back to a 3-2 game and we’re controlling most of the game from that point on. We just couldn’t find that third goal. We pushed down the stretch to try and get that tying goal and it didn’t happen. But I thought there was plenty of pushback and plenty of emotion from our guys tonight. I don’t think it was from a lack of that at all.
Carter Hart (Flyers goaltender)
What does it say about the team to hold off the Penguins?
You definitely don’t want to see Coots go out early like that. We all pray that he’s okay. We had guys step up and fill his role. Oskar on the power play there. I think that just shows the depth of our team.
How important was that to get the four points from the Penguins here? Were you focused even more after Sean Couturier went down?
No, I don’t think anything changes. My job is to stop the puck. But I definitely think things change with our group. Our lineup had some guys step in. Like I said in the earlier question, we’ve got a lot of depth. Guys stepped up and did a good job.
What are your thoughts on Nolan Patrick’s play and how he seems playing in front of you?
It’s tremendous how well he’s jumped into things here. No preseason games and not having played a game last year. It’s been over a year for him not playing a hockey game. For him to jump in right away with both feet in, he’s been unbelievable. That’s got to be tough for anybody. To see him do it, it means a lot to us and to have him back with us, with our group. He’s a huge part of our group. We’re lucky that he’s healthy and he’s looking great.
Jakub Voracek (Flyers right wing) and Travis Konecny (Flyers right wing)
Jake, can you just talk about what you had back there with Carter Hart and the effect he had on this game?
Obviously, when the goalie makes huge stops in the right moment of the game it’s always huge. It was a sloppy game I’ll tell you that much. I think all over the ice, I mean it’s a positive thing we got four points and scored 11 goals, but we are far from the best. It was expected. Carter was good. I thought we are deep down the lineup. That third line is dangerous when they’re in the o zone. It was a good game, but we know we have to get way better- way, way better.
Travis, in game one, you obviously almost had that goal, but it went off Oskar’s head. How good did it feel to get back on the scoreboard and did it feel like the flood gates opened up once you got one?
Yeah, it is always nice to get the first one out of the way. I was just trying to get to the right areas and guys were making good passes. Like Jakey said, when you have so much depth you just have to go to the blue paint and turn around. Obviously, it’s nice to get that out of the way and look forward to playing some better hockey 5 on 5 for the team in general.
For both, how much was this win the inspiration of Coots going out? How much did you use that to rally in this game?
Voracek: When your number one center goes down, he won a Selke last year, he’s been one of the best centremen in the league, it’s always tough to overcome. He kind of brings that poise to the game and to his line and is real smart with the puck and he holds the puck really well. That is one of the reasons why the game was so sloppy because we were missing Coots. So hopefully it won’t be long term. It was an unfortunate loss obviously, and hopefully he’s going to be better. We found a way to win like I said. It’s a good thing. But we still got a lot better coming up, so we got to make sure we adjust in the practice and keep working.
Jake, you mentioned about the game being sloppy. You mentioned part of that is Coots being out, but how much of the bulk of it is it’s a short camp and you guys are kind of playing yourselves into your rhythm considering the weirdness of the season?
Well, yeah, it’s obviously going to take a little bit. Like I said, the positive is we got four points out of it, you know what I mean. It is always hard to beat teams back to back, but it is sloppy, that’s for sure. Like I said, we gave up a lot. I think they were the better team, to be honest with you. Carter was good in the back of the net, made the huge stops and we were just patient. Like TK said, the depth makes a difference. When your line is rolling and rolling and you can keep that pressure on their D all game, it is kind of hard to sustain. Like I said, it’s going to take a little bit. Hopefully it won’t be that long, but four points are four points and we have to have a good practice and focus on Buffalo.
Jake, you mentioned Carter. It looks like he hasn’t really missed a beat. He’s 30 plus saves in both of these games. What have you seen from him so far?
The scary thing is he can be better as well. He made a lot of good stops. I think every single player on our team can be better. Our line didn’t have a really good game in game one. We were kind of getting used to each other. The other lines stepped up. The power play stepped up. This game, it was on and off with some lines. I think we played pretty good as a line. Carter made a couple realf good stops, but the scary thing is he can be better, and he knows it, like everyone else on the team. Like I said, it is going to take four to five to six games. We have to pick up the points when they are on the table and hopefully play a bit better hockey as the season goes on.
Casey DeSmith (Penguins goaltender)
These two nights haven’t gone the way you had hoped. What is the mood like among the guys? Is it frustration? Is it panic? Is it anger? How would you describe it?
I don’t think it’s any of those things. I think we outshot them and out hanced them both nights. Just didn’t get the puck luck. You know, when we broke down, it seemed to be more catastrophic breakdowns than we would like. I think that is about it. I think if we just clean it up, and we’re playing really well as a team.
Given the composition of the season where it’s 56 games and strictly against divisional opponents, how much more weight does every game whether it is a win or loss carry given the context of this season?
Yeah, the sense of urgency is a little bit higher than usual. Obviously, 20 something less games and divisional opponents, so everybody is fighting for a playoff spot on a nightly basis. There is no two-point swings; it is all four point swings. That’s why you got to bounce back.
I know the circumstances weren’t ideal, but this is your first NHL action in 22 months, what did it mean to you to get back in a game there and how do you think you performed?
I was really happy with how I felt, honestly. It’s been a long time since I’ve played at this level, obviously. Games feel a little bit different than practices and scrimmages and stuff like that. It was nice to get some game action and build the confidence a little bit. Just to feel some game action again was really nice.