PRAGUE (AP) — Travis Konecny had two goals and coach Alain Vigneault won his debut with Philadelphia, directing the Flyers to a season-opening 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.
Oskar Lindblom and Michael Raffl also scored for the Flyers in front of a sellout crowd of 17,463 at Prague’s O2 Arena as part of the NHL’s Global Series. Carter Hart stopped 28 shots.
It was the first regular-season game outside of North America in Philadelphia’s 52-year history.
Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists for Chicago, which opened the 2009-10 season in Finland. Alex Nylander and Alex DeBrincat also scored.
The Blackhawks are hoping to return to the playoffs after a two-year absence, but defensemen Dennis Gilbert and Slater Koekkoek each made a costly mistake after the blue liners struggled last year.
Konecny turned Gilbert’s turnover into a 1-0 lead for Philadelphia 6:24 into the first, beating Corey Crawford on the glove side.
Lindblom was credited with a power-play goal 6:28 into the second when his shot bounced off the crossbar and was deflected by Koekkoek into its own net. Konecny then converted a backhander with 1:56 left in the period, giving the Flyers a 3-1 lead.
Chicago played without defensemen Calvin de Haan and Connor Murphy due to injuries.
Vigneault became the 21st coach in Flyers history in April. He also has coached Montreal, Vancouver and the New York Rangers.
He was behind the bench as Philadelphia held off Chicago in the 26th NHL regular-season game played in Europe, and the fifth in Prague.
The Blackhawks pulled within one when DeBrincat one-timed a pass from Kane past Hart with 13 seconds left in the second. It was DeBrincat’s first goal since he signed a three-year contract extension worth $19.2 million.
Raffl responded for Philadelphia in the third, skating around the net and sliding a backhand between Crawford’s pads for a 4-2 lead at 9:48.
Kane scored with 2:07 remaining, but the Flyers held on.
Crawford finished with 34 saves. Nylander scored in the first period in his first game since he was acquired in an offseason trade with Buffalo.
The NHL returned to Europe for the third straight year as part of its efforts to grow the fan base in hockey-mad countries like the Czech Republic, Sweden, Finland and others.
It will be back in Europe next month when the Tampa Bay Lightning face the Sabres in the Swedish capital of Stockholm.
Blackhawks: Host the San Jose Sharks in their home opener Thursday night.
Flyers: Host the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.
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