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5 Views: Flyers’ Home-Opening Win Features Zamula, Couturier Goal, & Hart

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Egor Zamula, PhiladelphiaFlyers
Defenseman Egor Zamula scored his first career goal in the opening period, giving the host Flyers a quick 1-0 lead on Tuesday. Photo: AP.

The Philadelphia Flyers are calling this season a “New Era of Orange.”

So far, so good.

The Flyers opened the home portion of their schedule with a 2-0 win Tuesday over a high-scoring Vancouver  team that owned a 2-0 record — beating talented Edmonton twice — and was averaging six goals per game.

Philly is now 2-1, and 32-17-7 in home openers since the franchise started in 1967-68.

Vancouver, coached by former Flyer Rick Tocchet, was outshot, 23-2, in a scoreless second period.

Repeat: 23-2.

With 16:34 left in regulation, the Canucks thought they had sliced the deficit to 2-1 on a rebound goal by Connor Garland.

But John Tortorella used a coach’s challenge, and the goal was overturned because of goalie interference. Thus Carter Hart kept his shutout and the Flyers maintained their two-goal cushion.

Hart finished with 25 saves. The Flyers had a 42-25 shots advantage.

Here are five observations:

1. Sean Couturier shows his offensive wizardry.

Known for his defensive efforts, Couturier made a sensational spin move and beat goalie Thatcher Demko  on a penalty shot to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead with 2:37  left in the first period. While on a breakaway, he had been slashed from behind by Noah Juulsen.

It was the first penalty-shot attempt in Couturier’s career.

He was also good on the Flyers’ 3-for-3 penalty kill, and had four shots in the game.

Couturier’s status for the game wasn’t known until earlier in the day; he was banged up and didn’t practice Monday. Tortorella said  it was not related to the back injury that caused him to miss nearly two seasons. .

The 30-year-old center said he sat as a precaution.  He said he may miss practices from time to time.

2. Big Z makes a big case to stay in the lineup.

Defenseman Egor Zamula scored the first NHL goal of his career just 1:45  into the game, giving the Philadelphia Flyers a 1-0 lead.

Zamula made a patient move and then scored on a point drive, his first goal in 28 career games.

“A dream come true,” said Zamula, who had three shots and two blocks.

Zamula, 23, played in the opener (a 4-2 win over Columbus), but was benched in favor of Emil Andrae in Game 2 (a 5-2 loss in Ottawa). He is trying to show Tortorella he should be a regular.

Rookie Emil Andrae, 21, was benched Tuesday in favor of Zamula.

3. It didn’t take long for center Morgan Frost to get in his coach’s doghouse.

Last year, Tortorella was critical of Frost early in the year, and the center responded. Over the final 55 games, he led the Flyers in points (40), even-strength points (36), and assists (24). He was third on the team in goals (16, including 15 at even-strength) during that span, and finished with a career-best 19 goals.

Maybe Tortorella is trying to light another fire under Frost this season.

Frost was benched after just two games, and Scott Laughton moved from left wing to center. Laughton had an assist, a game-high six shots, and won 5 of 6 faceoffs (83%).

Over two games, Frost had no points and a minus-1 rating.

After Tuesday’s win, Tortorella said other players are playing better than Frost. Simple as that.

4. Good to see rookies Bobby Brink and Tyson Foerster both in the lineup.

The Flyers are in rebuilding mode and need to play the kids. So it was good to see Brink and Foerster both playing for the first time in the young season. Brink played in the opener, and Foerster replaced Brink in Game 2.

In Tuesday’s game, Brink (age 22) played right wing on a line with Noah Cates (age 24) and Joel Farabee (age 23).

Brink showed off his speed in a first-period shift that produced his own scoring chance, and he was robbed in front by Demko in the second period. He finished with four shots.

Foerster (three shots, plus-1), 21, played on a veteran line with Laughton and Travis Konecny.

Brink and Foerster were together on the same power-play unit as fans got a glimpse at the future … and maybe, just maybe, the present.

5. The Flyers dominated the second period, but couldn’t solve Thatcher Demko.

Demko had a handful of great saves and withstood the aforementioned 23-2 shots domination by the Flyers in the second period. In the second, he denied Owen Tippett and Farabee three times each.

Demko entered the night with a .955 save percentage after one appearance.

Breakaways

The paid attendance was 18,883, but there were probably only about 13,000 people who attended. The early start time (6 p.m.)  and the traffic snarl created by the two others games at the sports complex — Phillies-Diamondbacks in the NLCS, and Mexico-Germany in soccer — caused many people to stay home. … Travis Sanheim blocked three shots. … Zamula was paired with Nick Seeler. … Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, whose unspecified injury was originally called “not serious,” missed his third straight game. … Philly’s power play went 0 for 4 and is 1 for 13 over the first three games. … The Flyers will host Connor McDavid and Edmonton on Thursday.

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