Every season, an argument can be made for a player left off the All-Star team.
Enter Travis Konecny.
The ever-improving forward registered a hat trick, the second of his career, in a 5-3 Philadelphia Flyers win over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday.
Konecny will take a career-high 10-game points streak into Saturday’s rematch at Washington.
“I’ve just been trying to come to the rink every day, and just work hard. I’m kind of getting my bounces right now,” Konecny said. “It goes around the locker room throughout the season, and it’s just going my way right now.”
Konecny has already tied his career high with 24 goals, which also leads the surging Flyers, who have won six of seven after a difficult start.
Konecny has credited his stellar play to having great chemistry with Scott Laughton. The Flyers lead the league with eight short-handed goals and Konecny and Laughton have three apiece.
“I’ve learned so much from Laughts, and he makes it so easy for me to learn the PK,” Konecny said. “And I make mistakes every single day trying to become a better penalty killer. And he always bails me out, being the better one of us two. I just keep trying to learn and trust that me and Laughty are gonna get the job done.”
While other players have stepped up during the winning streak, like goaltenders Carter Hart and Sam Ersson, Konecny has been the catalyst. He has eight games with multiple points in his last 10 games.
“He seems to be finding the spots, the puck seems to be finding him everywhere on the ice,” James van Riemsdyk said of Konecny. “And obviously we know what kind of ability he has, so it’s been fun to watch.”
The Capitals fell behind 4-1 before closing within one goal late in the third period Wednesday. Konecny’s empty-net goal in the waning seconds was the ultimate difference.
Now the Capitals will look to eliminate the mistakes and penalties that hampered them.
“In the third, I thought we kept fighting back and I thought that we had the chances to tie that game, and we just didn’t get it done,” Washington coach Peter Laviolette said. “That’s frustrating, but there’s things that we did where we shot ourselves in the foot.”
There was some encouraging news, though, as Nicklas Backstrom earned his first point since returning from hip surgery. Backstrom’s nifty assist led to T.J. Oshie’s backhand goal in the third, which cut the deficit to one.
It was only Backstrom’s second game since he returned to action.
“I told (Backstrom) earlier that I was struggling to get him the puck tonight,” Oshie said. “It usually works out better when he has it in his hands and gets it to me. Always nice to get one on the tape from (No.) 19. He’s going to get his assists, that’s for sure. But I’m sure it’s nice for him to get that first one out of the way, and away we go.”
For the Capitals, it will be vital to avoid early penalties and giving the Flyers momentum. They took six penalties on Wednesday.
“We have to continue to focus on those big momentum swinging shifts,” said Garnet Hathaway, who scored one goal Wednesday. “That first power play, that’s one that we want to stop. And when that goes in, we’re already fighting back. We want to score the first goal of the game, and we didn’t.”
–Field Level Media