Couturier Propels Flyers Past Kings In Season Opener, 4-2

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov already looked comfortable with the Philadelphia Flyers from the first moments of their NHL debuts.

The Flyers all made themselves quite comfortable at Staples Center in an impressive season opener.

Boyd Gordon and Sean Couturier scored 48 seconds apart to kick off a four-goal second period in Philadelphia’s 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night.

Couturier got two goals, Mark Streit also scored and Michal Neuvirth made 23 saves as the Flyers took a 4-0 lead and cruised to a win in their season opener for the first time since 2011.

But even after running over the two-time Stanley Cup champion Kings, the Flyers’ veterans mostly wanted to talk about 19-year-old rookies Konecny and Provorov, two first-round draft picks from 2015 who cracked the Philadelphia roster in training camp.

“It’s awesome having them here,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “They bring an element I don’t think we necessarily had last year. They’ve got speed, and they can make plays.”

Konecny had two assists, setting up both of Couturier’s goals with nifty plays. Provorov added another assist on Streit’s goal.

“I can play better, and I’ll play better (Saturday),” Provorov said. “You expect the best. It’s the best league in the world. (Los Angeles) came out hard. We weathered the storm and started to play our game.”

Drew Doughty and Brayden McNabb scored in the home opener for the Kings, whose 50th anniversary season is off to an 0-2 start after a strong first period led to a dismal second against Philadelphia.

“We were turning over pucks, giving odd-man rushes and had a few bad changes,” said Doughty, last season’s Norris Trophy winner. “It was one of the worst periods we have played as a team in a long time.”

Jeff Zatkoff made his home debut with 26 saves in his first game as the Kings’ presumptive starter in the absence of Jonathan Quick, the Vezina Trophy finalist. Quick is out for several weeks with a groin injury, but Zatkoff wasn’t the Kings’ biggest problem while his teammates repeatedly left him without help through poor decisions.

“(Quick) is arguably the best goalie in the NHL, but we can’t do anything about it,” Los Angeles captain Anze Kopitar said. “We have to play hard and play with what we have.”

The Kings’ opener went downhill from the pregame ceremony to kick off their landmark 50th anniversary season. The Flyers, who entered the NHL alongside the Kings in the league’s Second Six expansion, also celebrate their 50th this year.

Los Angeles welcomed back several members of its original team and other stars from the franchise’s founding days. Every former player with a number retired in the Staples Center rafters made an appearance, including Wayne Gretzky.

The Flyers couldn’t put a shot on Zatkoff until Streit’s tame try 13 minutes into the first period, but Gordon started the scoring for his new team early in the second after the Kings made a poor change. Couturier then scored consecutive goals 7:21 apart.

Streit capped the barrage when the Swiss defenseman banked a shot off the back of Zatkoff’s head.

Doughty finally snapped the Kings’ 97 1/2-minute scoreless drought late in the second, and McNabb scored early in the third.

NOTES: Flyers D Shayne Gostisbehere was cut on the right cheek by Kings F Kyle Clifford’s skate early in the first period, but stayed in the game. “I was just thankful it wasn’t worse,” said Gostisbehere, who didn’t need stitches. “I’ll take this any day over what could have happened.” … Kings F Tanner Pearson finished his two-game suspension for a preseason hit on Edmonton’s Brandon Davidson. … The Kings sold out their 173rd consecutive regular-season home game.

 

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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