Michael Raffl, James van Riemsdyk, Nolan Patrick and Joel Farabee all scored to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night in the first game of the NHL season
PHILADELPHIA — Joel Farabee had a goal and three assists, Michael Raffl, James van Riemsdyk and Nolan Patrick also scored to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday in the first game of the NHL season.
The unconventional opener was decided when Raffl scored from the slot and beat Tristan Jarry 5:37 into the third for a 4-3 lead and the only cheers for the go-ahead goal came from Flyers fans watching at home.
The Flyers pounced from there — Travis Konecny and Kevin Hayes scored 20 seconds apart to turn this one into a rout.
Mark Jankowski and Sidney Crosby scored for the Penguins.
Crosby’s goal was about expected against a team he has tortured like no other. He was greeted by strange silence in the empty arena — 20,000 Flyers fans generally lose their minds chanting “Crosby sucks!” – and he simply skated away without a boo to be heard after his tying goal.
Crosby’s 44th goal against the Flyers, more than any other team in the league, in 71 games was one of his best. Carter Hart tried to clear the puck from behind the net and his lazy pass was batted down by Crosby and poked in an empty net to make it 2-2.
Jankowski, who scored just five goals last season, scored the first one of this season 5:12 into the game.
Erik Gustafsson had to settle for assists on two shots that seemed destined to find the back of the net in the first period. His first slapper knocked off van Riemsdyk’s stick to tie it 1-1. Gusafsson’s next shot was deflected by Patrick with 7.8 seconds to make it 2-1.
“It was a really good shot by Gus to get it through and I was able to get a stick on the puck and tip it in,” van Riemsdyk said.
Patrick scored in his first game since April 2, 2019. The 22-year-old center, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft, was stricken with debilitating migraines and missed all of last season.
Farabee scored late in the second period to put the Flyers ahead 3-2 in a game that had all the atmosphere of a morning skate.
“We wish our fans were here but the intensity is still there,” Farabee said.
Farabee had assists on van Riemsdyk, Patrick and Hayes’ goals.
Flyers D Shayne Gostisbehere and Penguins F Kasperi Kapanen sat out for COVID-related reasons.
Konecny played in his 300th career game.
The Flyers will allow one family per game inside the Wells Fargo Center that represent frontline and essential workers who worked in the community in the battle against COVID-19. Josh and Amanda Hathaway, who both work at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and one of their children had the lucky perch above the Flyers’ bench.
BUT WHO’S COUNTING
The Twitter account @SinceFlyersLastCup noted Wednesday marked 16,669 days since, well, the Flyers won their last Stanley Cup in 1975.
The Penguins and Flyers play again Friday in Philly as part of a packed, 56-game schedule necessitated by the pandemic. The schedule realignment added Boston to a revamped, travel-friendly East Division that included the Capitals, Penguins, Rangers and Islanders.
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