A lot of the time, hockey makes no sense, and the Flyers learned that lesson this afternoon in their 1-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. Despite displaying their best defensive effort of the season, Marc-Andre Fleury stole the show with several unbelievable stops in his 26-save shutout victory while Brian Elliott made 20 saves in the loss. Cody Eakin scored his second goal of the season with just 1:25 in regulation to make this early regular season loss that much more painful. Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg each had four shots on goal in the loss, while Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier had three.
Late in the third period of which Vegas had the better of the offensive pressure, Eakin created and finished the play that decided the contest. With Couturier about to grab a loose puck in the defensive slot, Eakin managed to poke check the disc loose on a diving effort knocking the puck to Ryan Carpenter. Eakin quickly got up and moved cross ice to receive a pass from Carpenter, which he deposited into the back of the Flyers’ cage. Philly provided immense pressure in the final 85 seconds, including a Giroux wrist shot that was somehow gloved to the side of the net by a sprawling Fleury, but they failed to even the score before time ran out.
In the lowest-scoring game the Flyers have taken part in this season, both teams displayed great defensive efforts with Elliott and Fleury making several crucial saves when needed. Fleury had to make more noteworthy stops, but Elliott did a great job of eliminating any chances the Golden Knights got when Philly’s defense did break down. Compared to the other games this season, the Orange and Black did a great job of reducing Vegas’ chances to one-and-done for most of the afternoon.
Aside from the goalies, one of the stories of the game was the Flyers continuing to deal with bad luck in terms of injuries. With Jordan Weal moving up to center the second line today due to Nolan Patrick’s absence, both Scott Laughton and Mikhail Vorobyev endured some painful plays. Laughton tripped over Fleury after a shorthanded breakaway and awkwardly slid into the boards, but managed to return to the game early in the third period after missing the end of the middle frame. In the third period, Vorobyev was hit from behind on a borderline (awkward?) play by Brayden McNabb and didn’t return.
The hit on Lindblom... pic.twitter.com/exjQRXvM2A— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 13, 2018
The first period was probably the Flyers’ best period so far in the young season in terms of defense. Most of the 20 minutes was spent in the Golden Knights’ zone, as the home team had a 10-5 shot advantage and limited Vegas to 0.46 expected goals at 5-on-5. The only real threatening chance the Golden Knights had came off a rebound created by Eakin with a little over a minute to play in the period.
The second period saw more offensive chances for both clubs, but still failed to produce the contest’s first tally. Elliott made a few key saves, like a save in close on Jonathan Marchessault right before Travis Sanheim hooked the forward and a wrister from the bottom of the circle from Max Pacioretty (who hit the post earlier in the frame) with Sanheim in the box, but Fleury was tasked with a few bigger stops. In a span of 1:29, Fleury stopped the shorthanded Laughton breakaway and another breakaway from Giroux, which was his best save of the game before he robbed the Flyers’ captain again in the final minute. Later in the period, Fleury denied a cross-ice one-timer from Jori Lehtera to keep the game goalless to start the third period.
In the final period, the Golden Knights provided much of the offensive pressure before Eakin’s game-winning goal with a little over a minute left in regulation.
With this type of a defensive effort, the Flyers will win more games than they’ll lose. Unfortunately, most fans don’t want to hear about that right now. Hopefully the defensive effort returns in the team’s next game on Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers.