PHILADELPHIA – It was a character win but it may have come with a high price.
During the Flyers’ 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center, top center Sean Couturier suffered a shoulder injury and did not return to action.
Couturier, the Flyers’ MVP last season and NHL Selke Trophy (best defensive forward) winner, was hit into the boards by Pittsburgh’s Jared McCann early in the first period, left the ice and did not return to action.
The Flyers did not immediately issue an update on the injury.
With the win, the Flyers completed a two-game sweep of the season-opening series with Pittsburgh.
After the game, coach Alain Vigneault confirmed Couturier will undergo an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) on his shoulder on Saturday.
Jake Voracek, who replaced Couturier on the power play, said he hoped Couturier’s injury is not too serious.
Voracek also said it was difficult to win this game without the Flyers’ best player.
“When your No. 1 center goes down – he won the Selke last year and he’s one of the best centermen in the league – it’s always tough to overcome it,’’ Voracek said. “He kind of brings that poise to the game, to his line.
“That was one of the reasons why the game was so sloppy because we missed ‘Coots.’ Hopefully it won’t be long-term.’’
Philadelphia dashed off to an early 3-0 lead on a pair of goals from Travis Konecny and another by Ivan Provorov. The goals came in a span of 4:03.
In the third period, Konecny scored again for his first career hat trick. Oskar Lindblom completed the scoring with an empty-net goal with 2:08 to play.
Konecny scored his first goal on a power play, with Voracek providing the trigger from the right circle at 7:27. At 9:26, Konecny cleaned up a Nolan Patrick rebound.
Then Provorov scored at 11:30, firing home a shot over Tristan Jarry’s right shoulder from the top of the right circle with Voracek again getting the primary assist.
Konecny said it’s not such a bad thing playing two games against the same opponent on the home rink, which almost never happens in a normal NHL season.
“We kind of love it,’’ Konecny said. “It’s definitely the style of hockey we like to play. We like getting in teams’ faces and it makes for some good rivalries when you’re out there playing. It makes it a lot of fun.”
Both of the Konecny first two goals came from in close where he seems to do some of his best work.
“I have to keep going to the net,’’ he said. “It’s cliche, everybody says get to the blue paint because bounces do happen when you are in there. We just have to stick with it.’’
Konecny sounded relieved to get his first goals of the season, particularly after going scoreless in 16 playoff games last season.
“It’s always nice to get the first one out of the way,’’ he said. “I was just trying to get to the right areas. When you have so much depth, you just go to the blue paint and the puck is going to be there for you.’’
After Provorov’s goal, Jarry was replaced by Casey DeSmith.
But the Flyers couldn’t stand prosperity for long.
Sidney Crosby connected on a power play at 12:59 and just 32 seconds later, Brandon Tanev sent a shot past Carter Harr and suddenly it was 3-2.
The Flyers tightened things up in the second period, although they were outshot by a 10-4 margin and forced Carter Hart to make several tough saves.
Vigneault gave Hart a lot of the credit on the defensive side of the puck.
“There’s no doubt Carter Hart was the difference,’’ Vigneault said. “In the third period, with the game on the line, we played our best hockey tonight. That’s a very positive sign.
“Playing the same team back-to-back, they had lost the first game. . .they came out with more spunk, very physical. For the first two periods, they had the better of the scoring chances but Carter was the difference.’’
>Giroux, Provorov streaks continue
Both Claude Giroux and Provorov played in their 317th consecutive game on Friday night, tying John LeClair for second place on the Flyers’ all-time ironman list. The Flyers’ record is held by Rod Brind’Amour with 484 straight games.
Giroux played in his 605th game as captain of the Flyers. He needs to play in six more games to pass Hall of Famer Bob Clarke for No. 1 on the all-time list. . .The Flyers’ 6-3 win over the Penguins on Wednesday marked the first time they had won a season-opener at the Wells Fargo Center since 2003. . .With his four-point game in the season opener, Joel Farabee became just the fourth Flyer in team history under the age of 21 to register four or more points. . . .Voracek’s two assists move him past Mark Recchi into fifth place on the Flyers’ all-time list.
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