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Flyers 4, Panthers 3: Konecny, Hayes bounce back after benching

Sunday was a long time ago.

Florida Panthers v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

After an abysmal showing Sunday in which head coach John Tortorella said his team’s entire performance “sucked” against the San Jose Sharks, the Philadelphia Flyers returned to action Thursday night on Broad Street to take on the Florida Panthers. The Panthers bested the Flyers just barely over a week ago with a 4-3 victory in Sunrise, and the Flyers were hopeful they’d exact some revenge with a victory of their own in Philadelphia.

Despite being heavily unfavored, the Flyers did just that with a 4-3 win over the reigning Presidents’ Trophy-winning Panthers.

Travis Konecny, who was benched in the third period against the Sharks, put together a standout performance with a pair of primary assists on the Flyers’ first two goals of the game. The 25-year-old now has eight points in the Flyers’ first seven games of the season.

The Panthers struck first early in the opening period to break the ice. Florida defenseman Gustav Forsling beat goaltender Carter Hart with a wrister from the high slot that trickled past the goal line. Hart has allowed several goals of this variety in the first month of the season, but has for the most part stood tall for the Flyers and has been one of the club’s true bright spots in the campaign’s early going.

Exactly three minutes after Forsling’s goal, Flyers defenseman Tony DeAngelo evened the score on an odd-man rush thanks to a slick, behind-the-back, no-look feed from Travis Konecny. Konecny, despite the recent benching, has been hot to start the season and seemed to be playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. The former first-round pick finished the night with 22:14 of ice time.

Before the crowd at Wells Fargo Center even had time to settle down from DeAngelo’s goal, though, Josh Mahura, another Florida defenseman, beat Hart off a Radko Gudas-forced rebound to put the Panthers back on top. The Flyers were badly outshot in the first period 19-9, and several of those shots were created by rebounds off of Hart. One of those rebounds was destined to result in a goal, and Mahura was in the right place at the right time.

But just as they had done after Forsling’s early tally, the Flyers engineered another response. Just 20 seconds into their first power play of the night, Scott Laughton scored his third goal of the season to knot the score once more. And again, it was Konecny who logged the primary assist on the marker with a quick feed to Laughton in close quarters.

Despite being outchanced in the game’s first 20 minutes, the Flyers arranged a much better period in the middle frame. They held Florida without a goal and managed to take a two-score lead thanks to a deflection from Zack MacEwen and a tap-in from Joel Farabee.

On Farabee’s tally, top-line center Kevin Hayes broke through for a breakaway, but was unable to get a good shot on net. Regardless, Hayes still managed to corral the puck behind the net and find Farabee at the doorstep for an easy score.

Like Konecny, Hayes was also benched Sunday against the Sharks. Hayes finished the night with a pair of helpers and 19:55 of ice time.

The Panthers made things interesting in the third period when Brandon Montour, another Florida defenseman, cut the Flyers lead in half with his second goal of the season just 36 seconds into the final third, but Hart ultimately held down the fort and kept the Panthers from adding to their goal total. The 24-year-old finished with 48 saves on 51 shots. His 48 saves are the most by any goalie since the start of the 2022-23 season.

The Flyers were outshot 51-22 on the night. While it’s encouraging that they were able to persevere and earn a big victory over a very good club, one can imagine the good luck streak will eventually catch up to them as their oppositions continue to drive play so efficiently. But for right now, this serves as an impressive victory against a team not many expected the Flyers to beat. And that carries significant weight for a squad still looking for a tangible identity.

With this win, the Flyers move to 5-2-0 on the season. They wrap up their three-game homestand Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes before visiting the world’s most famous train station to take on the New York Rangers on Tuesday.

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