LAS VEGAS – An assist on a crucial goal, a rescue mission and some timely play in the offensive zone all added up to make it a memorable first night in the NHL for rookie Mikhail Vorobyev.
While he looked a little jittery on his first few shifts, the young Russian settled down and made some nice contributions to the Flyers’ season-opening 5-2 win over the Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena.
Vorobyev, centering a line of James van Riemsdyk and Wayne Simmonds, assisted on Robert Hagg’s goal at 6:11 to make the score 4-1 and pretty much put the game away.
Later, when center Nolan Patrick got roughed up along the boards by Vegas defenseman Nick Holden, Vorobyev skated in and shoved Holden in the back, touching off a bit of a fracas.
Wayne Simmonds said it was good to see Vorobyev get involved in a physical way to help out a teammate.
“That’s huge,’’ Simmonds said. “We’ve been talking about being team-tough. Someone gets hit and he’s the first one on the scene. He stepped up for his teammate. I just think that’s part of the mentality that we’re trying to get in this dressing room – all for one and one for all.
“That was a great play by him. It lets everyone know that’s the way the rest of the team has to be.’’
And Vorobyev did some good things with the puck, too.
“He’s a smart player,’’ Simmonds said. “He puts pucks in a spot where you can get them. I’m enjoying playing with him and ‘Riemer’ so far. Hopefully we can keep the chemistry up and keep it going.’’
Vorobyev, who switched to No. 24 at the end of training camp, calmed down after a rather tense first few minutes.
“I am so happy,’’ he said. “I was pretty nervous before the game but after the first shift I felt good. My partners helped me a lot.’’
Coach Dave Hakstol was encouraged by what he saw.
“That’s the make-up of our team and the nature of our team,’’ he began. “We’re going to play hard for one another and battle hard for one another.
“I thought he had a good night. That’s a lot coming at a young player in that atmosphere. He handled himself well. We’re going to look at some things on tape and see some things he can do a little quicker in terms of coverages but he’s seeing the coverages and that’s a real good place to start.’’
On the good side, Vorobyev was a plus-2. On the negative side, he was only 1-6 on faceoffs.
“I thought with the puck he was very good,’’ Hakstol said. “He was good defensively. That seems to be his nature, to be on the right side of the puck.’’
The Flyers won their third straight season opener, all against Pacific Division teams. . .Claude Giroux recorded his 464th career assist to move into third place on the Flyers’ alltime list.