Flyers top Penguins in OT as NHL Return to Play exhibitions begin

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Scott Laughton‘s overtime goal gave the Flyers a 3-2 win over the Penguins in the first exhibition game of the NHL’s Return to Play.

The Penguins took the early lead after Conor Sheary‘s goal 5:06 into the first period. Philadelphia answered to close out the opening 20 minutes as Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes scored to grab a 2-1 lead.

After a goalless second period, the Penguins took advantage of a Flyers’ breakdown as Jason Zucker tied the game with 3:55 to go.

NHL regular-season overtime rules apply to the exhibition and round-robin games, which meant three-on-three was needed to decide a winner. After chances from both teams, Travis Konecny sent a wonderful pass to a streaking Laughton to set up the winner.

A different atmosphere

There we no fans inside Scotiabank Arena. Seats were covered by NHL tarps and the sounds of players communicating and skates cutting the ice were partnered with ambient crowd noise. Ice crews wore masks, as did the workers (along with gloves) who sanitized the benches between periods. It was a unique situation for all.

Even our own Brian Boucher had safety on his mind with a new and improved “Inside the Glass” position:

Once the puck dropped, it was a good 60-plus minutes for both teams to get back up to speed after so much time off. The Flyers will want to see some better defensive zone coverage, while the Penguins are hoping to wake up a power play that 0-for-3.

“It’s something where we expected some hiccups and little things that you’re not going to get in intra-squad games,” said Zucker. “It was good for us to get out there, get the feels and see what we need to shore up before Saturday.”

The setting was not what we are used to, but it was still a hockey game. There was plenty of sloppiness and lots for both teams to work out in the coming days. That’s what you get after a 140-day absence.

But still, hockey is back.

NHL on NBCSN exhibition schedule – Wednesday, July 29

Carolina vs. Washington – 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Chicago vs. St. Louis – 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
N.Y. Rangers vs. N.Y. Islanders – 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN

MORE:
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.