PHILADELPHIA – First-line center Sean Couturier will be sidelined two weeks due to a “costochondral (joint) separation’’ the Flyers announced on Saturday.
According to two medical websites, the costochondral joints are the ones between the ribs and costal cartilage in the front of the rib cage. Each rib has a depression shaped like a cup that the costal cartilage articulates with.
Couturier was injured early in the first period of Friday night’s game with Pittsburgh during a collision with the Penguins’ Jared McCann.
With Couturier sidelined, rookie Morgan Frost is expected to fill in at center for Monday night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres at the Wells Fargo Center.
>McCann fined for illegal hit
McCann also has been fined $10,000, the maximum allowable under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for elbowing Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim during Friday night’s game the NHL announced.
>Hart outplays Penguin goalies
They say numbers don’t lie, but in this particular case they were a bit misleading.
Although the Flyers’ outscored the Penguins by an 11-5 margin in a pair of season-opening wins, the games were much closer than those totals might indicate.
The Flyers led by margins of identical 3-2 scores heading into the third period of both games.
Philadelphia was getting badly outshot, and outchanced, in Friday night’s game at the Wells Fargo Center.
Plus, the Flyers were playing most of the game without Couturier.
If not for the stellar play of Flyers goaltender Carter Hart, the outcome might have been very different.
He clearly outplayed Tristan Jarry, his offseason training partner, and Casey DeSmith in his series.
Hart was modest about his contribution. When asked if he stepped his game up even more after the injury to Couturier, Hart said his mindset stayed the same.
“No, I don’t think anything changes,’’ said Hart, who joined his teammates in enjoying a deserved day off from practice on Saturday. “My job is to stop the puck. I definitely think things change with our group. Our lineup had some guys step in. We’ve got a lot of depth. Guys stepped up and did a good job.’’
Hart is picking up where he left off last season, at least as far as his home record is concerned. Last season he was 20-3-2, 1.63 goals-against average, .943 save percentage at the Wells Fargo Center.
Prior to Saturday’s announcement about Couturier’s status, the goaltender has his fingers crossed Couturier will make a full recovery.
“You definitely don’t want to see ‘Coots’ go out early like that,’’ Hart said. “We all pray that he’s okay. We had guys step up and fill his role. Oskar (Lindblom) on the power play there. I think that just shows the depth of our team.’’
Coach Alain Vigneault appreciated Hart’s effort. The goalie would have been the No. 1 star of the game if not for Travis Konecny’s first career hat trick.
Konecny is off to a quick start, perhaps erasing some memories of that 0 for 16 games in last season’s playoffs.
“What I can say about TK is that this is a new season, a clean slate for everyone,’’ Vigneault said. “He’s come here with the right mindset and the best of intentions.
“By going to the net hard, stopping and being at the right spot, he found a way to capitalize on some of his opportunities. It’s a step forward for him. Hopefully it’s a good step for his confidence. He’s a big player and important player for our team. We need him to play well.’’
In Friday night’s game, Konecny had his hat trick plus, while adding an assist for a four-point game. It’s the first hat trick for a Flyer since James van Riemsdyk recorded one on March 15, 2019. It was the first at the Wells Fargo Center since Jan. 16, 2019 (Couturier vs. Boston) and the first against Pittsburgh since Jake Voracek had three goals on the road on Feb. 20, 2013.
Per NHL Stats & Information, this is the first time in franchise history that each of the Flyers’ first two games has seen one of their players record a four-point game. Joel Farabee had a goal and three assists for a four-point night on Wednesday night in the 6-3 win over Pittsburgh.