Flyers’ Patrick scores in 1st game since April ’19

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Philadelphia Flyers center Nolan Patrick scored a goal on Wednesday in the first period of his first NHL game in 652 days.

The No. 2 pick of the 2017 draft missed all of last season as he dealt with a debilitating migraine disorder and hadn’t played since April 2, 2019. Patrick’s goal, on the power play, gave Philadelphia a 2-1 lead against the Pittsburgh Penguins on the NHL’s opening night. The Flyers won 6-3, thanks to three straight third-period goals.

Patrick’s absence was a lingering storyline for the Flyers last season. General manager Chuck Fletcher said last January that Patrick was progressing, and Philadelphia was hopeful Patrick would join the team for the playoff push — and then again when the season resumed over the summer in the Toronto bubble. However Patrick wasn’t cleared for contact until training camp opened this month.

“It’s been fun watching Patty,” teammate Travis Konecny said after. “He’s in a really good spot, having fun playing hockey. He’s put a lot of time in getting better, it’s incredible to see where he’s at.”

Patrick accounted for the second straight power play goal for the Flyers in the first period — welcome news after their man advantage struggled mightily in the bubble, going 4-for-52 (7.7%).

Patrick, 22, has 26 goals and 61 points in his first two seasons and is expected to be a huge asset as the third-line center, behind Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes.

Patrick hasn’t divulged much about his recovery.

“I’m not going to get into too much details about how my head feels,” he told reporters at training camp. “Going to see how camp goes and go from there.”

The Flyers also welcomed Oskar Lindblom back to the lineup on Wednesday. Lindblom, 24, was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer in December 2019 and missed the rest of the season as he underwent treatment at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Lindblom finished his final chemotherapy treatment in July.

Lindblom was credited with the Flyers’ fifth goal after the game, which was originally credited to Konecny. Afterward, Konecny said, “That is better than me getting one.”

“Both [Patrick and Linblom] got a big cheer from their teammates prior to the game,” Vigneault said. “My one disappointment is that Oskar played his first game in Philadelphia since December 2019 and he didn’t get a chance to play it in front of Flyers fans giving him the great cheer and love that he deserved from coming back and battling cancer.”