“I think the main focus is to make sure everybody stays together and stays tight,” Flyers forward Claude Giroux (above) said. “Obviously (Neuvirth) had a lot of big saves for us.”

By Sam Bush

The new-look Flyers will find out tonight how better they are this year as compared with last season’s awful playoffs-missing season.

Patrick Kane and his new linemates on Chicago’s second unit are doing their part to help the Blackhawks open strong in defense of their third Stanley Cup title in six years.

The trio will look to continue thriving and help the Blackhawks avoid a fourth consecutive loss in Philly when they face the Flyers tonight.

Kane has been playing well with three goals and three assists for Chicago (2-1-0)following a tumultuous offseason during which he was accused of a sexual assault at his Buffalo-area offseason home. No charges have been filed in the case.

The situation hasn’t seemed to be a distraction for the club, and Kane’s linemates – Artem Anisimov and rookie Artemi Panarin – have been providing solid ice time so far.

Anisimov, acquired in the trade that sent Brandon Saad to Columbus, scored in Friday’s 3-2 win at the New York Islanders in the opener of a home-and-home set. Panarin had a goal and two assists in Saturday’s 4-1 home win over the Islanders after netting his first NHL goal in a season-opening 3-2 loss to the Rangers.

“(Our line) has had a lot of chances and made a lot of plays,” said Kane, who scored and added two assists Saturday. “I try to stress to Anisimov and Panarin not to be satisfied where we’re at right now. This could be a fun line to play on and we just need to stay together as a line and keep getting better.”

While the second line appears set, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville continues tinkering with the spot on the top line next to Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. Teuvo Teravainen started there but has since been moved to center, while Andrew Shaw and Ryan Garbutt also have taken turns. Garbutt practiced with the top line this week.

“They’re important players you’re up there with, so you have to have some trust with that position,” Quenneville said. “The other two guys are extremely responsible. That spot is flexible, but we don’t want that player to have to change to fit in that spot.”

Chicago hasn’t won in Philly since June 9, 2010, when Kane’s overtime goal in Game 6 clinched the first of the team’s three recent championships. The Blackhawks have gone 0-2-1 there since while allowing 12 goals – a stark contrast to the two goals they’ve allowed in a pair of home wins over the Flyers in the same span.

Michal Neuvirth has embraced his new role as the Flyers’ starting goaltender with Steve Mason away from the club indefinitely because of a personal family matter.

Neuvirth relieved Mason in the first period of Saturday’s 7-1 loss to Florida and allowed three goals, but he stopped 31 shots Monday and made Brayden Schenn’s goal hold up in a 1-0 win over the Panthers.

“It’s sad news but you’ve got business to do,” Neuvirth said of Mason’s situation. “The more I play, the better I play.”

The Flyers (1-1-1) picked up their first win for new coach Dave Hakstol, who was hired after 11 years at North Dakota.

“I think the main focus is to make sure everybody stays together and stays tight,” forward Claude Giroux said. “Obviously (Neuvirth) had a lot of big saves for us.”

Neuvirth last faced the Blackhawks on March 17 with the Islanders and lost 4-1. He’ll likely oppose Corey Crawford, who allowed five goals in the first two games before getting the night off Saturday.

Crawford lost 4-1 to the Flyers in the most recent meeting March 25.

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