PHILADELPHIA (AP) Sean Couturier scored on a penalty shot for his first goal in nearly two years, Carter Hart made 25 saves and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Vancouver Canucks 2-0 in their home opener Tuesday night.
After being taken down by Elias Pettersson, Couturier beat Thatcher Demko on the penalty shot to make it 2-0 with 2:37 remaining in the first period. Couturier approached the goal from the right with his back to Demko, then spun to his forehand for a snapper that went in off the far post.
“I mean, in the last two years, I’ve had too much time to think about and work on it,” Couturier said. “So, just glad it worked.”
Couturier scored for the first time since Dec. 10, 2021. He was sidelined for the second half of the 2021-22 season and all of last season because of a back injury.
“Obviously I dream about scoring goals in the NHL, but coming into the game, I just focus on doing the little details right, play the right way and lead by example, and chances will come, points will come,” Couturier said. “Just go to stick to it.”
Couturier’s presence has been welcome for second-year coach John Tortorella.
“I think he just brings that calming presence to our team," Tortorella said. “I think it’s going to take time to get his complete game back. But more and more you can see it coming.”
The Canucks lost for the first time after sweeping an opening home-and-home set with the Edmonton Oilers.
Canucks coach Rick Tocchet, a former Philadelphia star, lit into his team afterward.
“I can’t even pick one guy who played well except Demko, who was unbelievable," Tocchet said. “We got some guys, they better pick it up. I didn’t see guys competing at all. That’s alarming. They competed and we didn’t. Bottom line. No compete.
“It’s a good lesson for us. Who are we to think we are anybody? We’ll see how guys respond.”
Rookie defenseman Egor Zamula opened the scoring with his first NHL goal, beating Demko to the glove side 1:45 into the game.
The Flyers kept up the pressure in the second period, outshooting Vancouver 23-2.
“The second period is probably the best period we played this year,” Tortorella said. “Really, quite honestly, the best period we’ve played in quite a while.”
Vancouver appeared to putt within a goal early in the third when Carson Soucy’s shot caromed off Hart’s blocker, over the goalie and into the net. But the goal was overturned by video review after Philadelphia challenged the officials’ call on the ice, claiming that Connor Garland interfered with Hart as he was trying to recover to make the save.
Hart had his first shutout of the season and sixth in the NHL.
The start was moved up an hour to 6 p.m. because of the Philadelphia Phillies’ home playoff game against Arizona across the street at Citizens Bank Park and a soccer match between Germany and Mexico at Lincoln Financial Field. Both of the latter games started at 8 p.m., creating a traffic and parking nightmare in the stadium complex and surrounding roads.
NOTES: Flyers D Rasmus Ristolainen (undisclosed) has been sidelined for all three of Philadelphia’s contests. … Tortorella is 16 wins shy of tying Alain Vigneault for 10th-most NHL victories. … The Flyers improved to 32-17-7 in home openers. … Philadelphia F Morgan Frost was a healthy scratch.
Canucks: At Tampa Bay on Thursday night.
Flyers: Host Edmonton on Thursday night.
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