PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- The Flyers did something Friday that hadn’t been done since the franchise started in 1967.
For the first time in their history, they won a game outside of North America.
Playing at the O2 Arena in Prague as part of the NHL’s Global Series, the Flyers were focused at the task at hand and not distracted by the hype surrounding the season opener.
Flyers 4, Chicago 3.
The Flyers, now 25-19-8 in season openers, got two goals from right winger Travis Konecny in a game they never trailed.
“I felt pretty good tonight. I’m definitely not going to take my foot off the pedal,” said Konecny, who had his father and grandfather at the game. “I still want to prove to the coaching staff that I can play in all situations and limit my mistakes. It was definitely a good way to start.”
Konecny missed four days of training camp before signing a six-year, $33 million contract.
“He was impressive tonight,” center Kevin Hayes said. “I think fans are going to be happy he signed that deal. What he did tonight, I think we’re going to see a lot of that. He’s a confident kid, and he likes the stage. He likes the light being on him -- in a good way.”
Fourth-line left winger Michael Raffl gave the Flyers some breathing room by scoring on a wraparound with 10 minutes, 12 seconds to play, increasing the lead to 4-2 before an arena-record 17,463 fans.
“I tried it a few times in the game and it worked that time,” Raffl said. “Winning feels nice. We didn’t win much in the preseason [a 1-3-3 record]. It would have been a totally miserable feeling if we dropped that one. It would have been a long ride home.”
With their goalie pulled, Patrick Kane got the Blackhawks within 4-3 with 2:07 left, but the Flyers survived.
“We really pressured them for the whole game,” said Carter Hart after stopping 28 of 31 shots. The second period, they had nothing for like 12 minutes. It was getting a little boring down my end."
The Flyers, playing their first game of the Alain Vigneault era, had all four lines contribute in some manner and they outshot the Blackhawks, 38-31, and won 62 percent of the faceoffs. Strong goaltending from Corey Crawford prevented a Flyers rout.
“We had a lot of chances we could have scored on, but we won the game, so it was a great first game and we have to keep going,” said Oskar Lindblom, who scored a power-play goal and fired a team-high five shots.
The Flyers took a 1-0 lead as Konecny stole the puck from Dennis Gilbert and scored from the left circle, beating Crawford with a high shot to the right corner with 13:36 left in the first.
Just 80 seconds later, the Blackhawks took advantage of Ivan Provorov’s neutral-zone turnover. Alexander Nylander, from between the top of the circles, whipped a shot that appeared to go through the legs of defenseman Justin Braun and past Hart.
Hart made amends with 1:44 left in the first, robbing Dominik Kubalik in front.
With 13:32 remaining in the second, the Flyers’ second power-play unit – which struggled mightily last season – snapped the 1-1 tie. Lindblom’s shot caromed off the right post, bounced off Chicago defenseman Slater Koekkoek, and past Crawford with 13:32 left in the stanza.
Konecny made it 3-1 by scoring a sensational four-on-four goal with 1:56 remaining in the second. Taking a pass from Scott Laughton, he raced down the left side, turned potential Hall of Fame defenseman Duncan Keith inside out with a dazzling move, and then beat Crawford with a backhander from the left circle.
“I felt like I just caught him flat-footed for a second,” Konecny said. “To be be completely honest, I did make the move, but I was trying to go far side. That’s just one of those shots you get lucky and it goes in.”
Chicago cut it to 3-2 on Alex DeBrinkat’s power-play goal with 12 seconds left in the second, but Raffl delivered what proved to be the winner.
“After that preseason, I don’t think anybody expected us to play this well," said Jake Voracek, a Czech Republic icon. “We skated well, we made them turn pucks over, we created a lot of chances.”