Flyers look for home sweep of rival Penguins

NHL Hockey

The Philadelphia Flyers will look to open the season with back-to-back victories over their rival when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

The Flyers won Wednesday’s opener, 6-3, thanks in large part to a four-point performance from Joel Farabee with one goal and three assists. It was their first season-opening win at home since 2003.

“I feel a lot more comfortable this year,” Farabee said. “I just happened to get lucky with some bounces. Overall, I thought our team play was really good. We have a lot to build off of that.”

Philadelphia, which fell to the New York Islanders in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season, will attempt to maintain its positive momentum with another tough matchup against the Penguins.

The Flyers scored twice on the power play, which had to be encouraging. In last season’s playoffs, they were 4 for 52 on the power play and 0 for 13 against the Islanders.

“I liked the fact that we shot the puck and had some net presence on the power play,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said. “That enabled us to get both of those goals. It was a good start for our group.”

After the Penguins tied the game at 3-3, the Flyers finished strong with three unanswered goals for the win. The Flyers were soundly defeated in Game 7 of the series against the Islanders, so this was a solid start in terms of confidence.

“When you stick to the game plan and keep grinding down teams, things usually go your way,” said Kevin Hayes, who scored one goal and added one assist. “I think all the players in that room stuck to the process and we got rewarded in the third.”

The Penguins played well for stretches, but a poor third period cost them in the end. Still, they received one goal from Sidney Crosby on a nifty play as he stole the puck out of the air from Flyers goaltender Carter Hart and scored. Crosby has scored 44 career goals against the Flyers, more than any other team.

While the scoreboard showed a three-goal loss, the Penguins aren’t panicking. Not yet.

“I thought there was a lot to like about our game,” Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan said. “I don’t think the score of the game was an indication of how it was played.”

Mark Jankowski was a bright spot with a goal and an assist. The free agent addition was active the entire game on both ends of the ice.

Brandon Tanev, who tied the game at 3-3 on a backhand pass from Jankowski, said that the Penguins won’t be disheartened after one game.

“We’re ready to move on from this one,” Tanev said. “We have a day to ourselves as a group and get together and grow together and look forward to the next one.”

In this shortened 56-game season, every game will be vital. With the divisions realigned, expect the Penguins to come back with an energetic performance on Friday.

“Short training camp, new people coming in and just trying to get the chemistry down,” defenseman John Marino said. “I don’t think anyone in the locker room is worried about it.”

–Field Level Media

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