Shayne Gostisbehere is making a case for being in the Flyers’ lineup when the season restarts.
The 27-year-old Gostisbehere, believed to be behind Robert Hagg as the Flyers’ No. 6 defenseman, had an assist and played solidly Tuesday in his team’s 3-2 overtime win over Pittsburgh in an exhibition game in Toronto.
Gostisbehere has had arthroscopic surgery on each knee since January — including a procedure about two months ago — and said this is the best he has felt in a long time.
“I’m definitely 100 percent, probably the healthiest I’ve felt in a couple years,” he said after the victory. “I’m happy to contribute any way I can. It s just good to be healthy and out there playing again and having fun. And obviously, winning, too.”
Coach Alain Vigneault said he liked Gostisbehere’s mobility and play. He was paired with rookie Mark Friedman and was used on the power play.
“There are some battles, obviously, for that starting lineup on the 11th” of August, Vigneault said of the Flyers’ first playoff game, “and they’re going to happen here through the next couple weeks.”
Vigneault hinted he will use the three-game round-robin tourney — which will be followed by the playoffs on Aug. 11 — to determine his lineup.
Hagg, a physical and effective player, appears to have the edge over Gostisbehere because of the way he and defensive partner Justin Braun played while the team was winning games late in the regular season.
When the national anthems were played before the game, a player from the each team stood next to each other, showing solidarity for Black Lives Matter.
“We’re a pretty big rival, but it still shows how we have respect for each other,” Flyers center Sean Couturier said. “I think it should be the same in life and in general.”
Couturier said the teams wanted to show unity for justice and against racism.
The Flyers went with Scott Laughton as their second-line left winger, a spot that is up for grabs. Joel Farabee played there for a good portion of camp.
Laughton scored the winner on a breakaway with 2:20 left in overtime.
Tuesday’s lines: Couturier centering Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek; Kevin Hayes centering Laughton and Travis Konecny; Derek Grant centering James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Pitlick; and Nate Thompson centering Michael Raffl and Nic Aube-Kubel. Farabee also was a rotating winger on the fourth line.
The teams were permitted to dress 13 forwards instead of 12 and seven defensemen instead of six.
The defense had its usual first two pairings: Ivan Provoorv and Matt Niskanen, and Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers. Gostisbehere and Friedman composed the third pairing at times, and Egor Zamula spent some time with Friedman and Myers.
Braun and Hagg, who are expected to be the third pair against Boston in Sunday’s round-robin opener, sat out Tuesday’s game.
The Flyers paid for a billboard in Toronto that had Gritty on it and said: EVERY SHOT YOU TAKE, EVERY MOVE YOU MAKE, I’LL BE WATCHING YOU.
Gritty is not in Toronto, but a recording of veteran public-address announcer Lou Nolan is there. “The Flyers are going on the PECOOOOO power play” is being used in Flyers games.