PHILADELPHIA — Beating their king tormentor, Sidney Crosby, and the Pittsburgh Penguins twice in a row to start the season wasn’t an easy task.
And it was made more difficult Friday night when Sean Couturier, the Flyers’ star center, left the game with an injury early in the first period and did not return.
But even without Couturier, the Travis Konecny-led Flyers completed the unlikely sweep at the Wells Fargo Center, 5-2, against their bitter cross-state rivals.
Konecny scored the first hat trick of his career and Carter Hart was brilliant in the nets as the opportunistic Flyers swept the Penguins. They will take some serious momentum into a two-game series against Buffalo, which starts Monday.
They will also hold their collective breath on the severity of Couturier’s injury. Coach Alain Vigneault said Couturier would have an MRI on his shoulder Saturday.
“You definitely don’t want to see Coots go out early like that. We all pray he’s OK,” Hart said after stopping 31 of 33 shots. “We had guys step up ... and that just shows the depth of our team.”
With the absence of fans, Gritty tossed a huge hat onto the ice to celebrate Konecny’s third goal, scored after taking a feed from Kevin Hayes with 7 minutes, 7 seconds left and giving the Flyers a 4-2 lead.
Pittsburgh outplayed the Flyers for a good portion of the game and outshot the hosts, 33-20. That was counteracted by the play of Konecny and Hart.
“There’s no doubt Carter Hart was the difference tonight,” Vigneault said.
The Flyers built a 3-0 lead, then allowed two goals (Crosby on the power play, Brandon Tanev) in a 32-second span and left the ice with a 3-2 lead after a wild first period.