PHILADELPHIA – If there had been spectators at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night, most certainly they would have given the Flyers a rather raucous ovation.
That’s because the Flyers went toe-to-toe with the former two-time Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL’s season opener and stood their ground.
Michael Raffl’s goal at 5:37 of the third period broke a 3-3 tie and sent the Flyers to a 6-3 win.
Travis Konecny added an insurance goal at 12:14.
Joel Farabee enjoyed a career night, finishing with a goal and three assists.
Flyers new defenseman Erik Gustafsson came up with a strong performance, assisting on the Flyers’ first two goals, both on the power play.
The two teams meet again on Friday back in Philadelphia.
Farabee’s goal with 1:06 to play in the second period gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead.
On the play, Farabee took a pass from Kevin Hayes at the bottom of the right circle, spun around and sent a shot past goalie Tristan Jarry just inside the far post.
“I feel a lot more comfortable this year,’’ said Farabee, coming off his rookie season in 2020. “I was just lucky tonight with some bounces. Overall, I thought our team play was really good.
“I put in a lot of time in the offseason, lifting, just trying to build as much strength as I can. Camp was short but I feel really good.’’
Coach Alain Vigneault saw this coming, which is partly why he put him on the second line.
“I believe him putting in the time and the effort that he did this summer shows his willingness to becoming the best player he can be,’’ Vigneault said. “There’s no doubt there’s a lot of skill in Joel. . .he’s putting in the time and the effort and that’s what players need to do.’’
Vigneault also liked his team’s power play.
“I liked the fact we shot the puck and had some net presence,’’ Vigneault said. “Erik shooting the puck, finding that lane and getting the puck to the net, that’s the right way of doing things on the power play. It was a good start for our group.’’
The Penguins fought back in the third and picked up a goal from Brandon Tanev for the final tie.
Then Raffl and Konecny took over, with Raffl converting a Scott Laughton feed and Konecny scoring from close range.
Early in the second period, Sidney Crosby tied the score at 2-2 with a brilliant play. He knocked down Hart’s clear attempt, then poked the puck into the net at 3:39.
Gustafsson, signed to a one-year, $3.3-million contract during the offseason, made the most of his initial appearances on the power play.
Both resulted in goals.
On the first, James van Riemsdyk set up shop in front of Jarry and managed to tip Gustafsson’s point shot into the net at 15:11.
Then, on the next power play, Gustafsson figured prominently again. With the clock running down, the defenseman launched a shot which Nolan Patrick tipped in with just eight seconds remaining for a 2-1 lead.
“It (two goals) builds confidence,’’ Gustafsson said. “But I think it (the power play) looked pretty good in practice the last two days. It’s nice to see it go in when you shoot it.’’
Pittsburgh took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Mark Jankowski. The Penguins center knocked a shot off Carter Hart’s left shoulder and just inside the crossbar.
The Flyers padded their lead with a Hayes goal at 12:34 of the third period.
“We go into every game with a game plan,’’ Hayes said. “When we stick to the game plan and are grinding down teams, things usually go your way. I think all the players that were in tonight stuck to the process and we got rewarded there in the third.’’
Konecny played in his 300th game as a Flyer. . .Shayne Gostisbehere was not in the lineup. He is still listed as “unfit’’ to play, which is the language the NHL is using for all injuries and illnesses during the pandemic. . .Sean Couturier will serve as an alternate captain for all Flyers game this season. Ivan Provorov will serve as an alternate for home games and Hayes and Jake Voracek will rotate for road games. . .This was the first time since the 2013-14 season the Flyers did not have a player making their NHL debut in the lineup.