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March 14, 2017

Lessons coming in losses for Konecny this season

Flyers NHL

Travis Konecny had just played perhaps the best game of his rookie NHL season on Monday night against Columbus, but all he could think about was the third-period penalty he had taken that led to Brandon Dubinsky’s go-ahead goal.

The playoff-bound Blue Jackets escaped the Wells Fargo Center with a 5-3 victory, and the Flyers’ rookie winger was taking full responsibility afterward.

“For whatever reason, I decided to bump the guy on the way back to the bench and they thought it was a penalty,” Konecny said. “It’s a stupid penalty by me and honestly I put the game in my hands there. It’s unacceptable.”

The 20-year-old Konecny was bummed, which is understandable in a way. He was still the best player on the ice for the Flyers, scoring on a couple of excellent shots. If the Orange and Black had earned a victory, Konecny would’ve been the first star in a much more upbeat locker room:

Through little fault of Konecny’s, very few learning lessons have come in wins this season.

As far as the Flyers’ future is concerned, this was probably a good night on balance. But after the Orange and Black’s already slim playoff hopes took another hit, all Konecny could think about was the late penalty he took.

“Honestly no excuses as to why I took the penalty,” Konecny said. “I have to own it up to it now, high in emotion going into the third period there. Yeah, I just felt like I should bump the guy on the way in. Obviously, it cost us the game.”

Konecny was being hard on himself, but the Flyers lost on Monday because their special teams weren’t good enough. The power play (1-for-8) squandered plenty of golden opportunities in the second period, and the 23rd-ranked penalty kill allowed Columbus to score on one of their two chances.

After the game, Claude Giroux was pleased with Konecny’s performance.

“The way he competed tonight, that’s the kind of way we want him to play,” Giroux said. “He was on the puck tonight, he made some great plays and that was one of his best games this year.”

“He’s an emotional player and his compete level is great, and we won’t ask him to stop competing out there.”

Controversially, Konecny has been forced to watch games from the press box on a couple of occasions this season. And after Monday night’s game, Dave Hakstol said any message that was conveyed to Konecny would stay behind closed doors.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow right now, but I got to learn from it,” Konecny said.

It may not have seemed like it on Monday night, but with the type of talent he has flashed, Konecny will have plenty of chances to do just that.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann