And we’re back at it again! The Flyers hit the back end of their back to back tonight, and their second game in the desert. It was their first time meeting the brand new Vegas Golden Knights this season (and, well, ever) and it was just about what you’d have expected, if you came into this game thinking about their poor performance in Arizona and how much of a joke life and Flyers fandom is. But, hey, let’s get into it.
The Laughton line got the start and immediately got the Flyers to work in the offensive zone, getting set up and laying a few big hits in the process. The first solid chance for the Flyers came on the next shift, when the Patrick line continued working with this pressure, with Voracek and Patrick chipping away to Fleury’s left, but couldn’t seem to get it to go.
But the Knights would respond with a few good chances of their own from Karlsson and Marchessault in close to the net. And a proper welcome back and welcome to Vegas for Neuvirth.
From here we hit a period of less getting hemmed into the zone, and more faster run-and-gun hockey. We saw fewer shots, on the whole, until the Golden Knights got one off after a bit of activity in front of Neuvirth.
(Brandon Manning has to take a stand for some reason and start a fight: DRINK.)
This would also earn Manning an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and it would send the Flyers to the penalty kill for the first time in the game. It was a very nice kill, though, as they worked well to control the puck and keep it cleared, and hit their high point with a Couturier breakout that found itself broken up, but ate up a good bit of time. And the penalty was successfully killed.
Back at five-on-five, the Flyers started off with a rush by Konecny and Patrick into the Golden Knights’ zone but they couldn’t get the play to come together in time, and were unable to get the shot off. And the puck was moved off in the other direction.
And if you were starting to feel that the Golden Knights were spending too much time in the offensive zone and getting to much fast passing and motion going, well, you’d be right. They’d been trying the fast criss-cross passing all night, and it finally worked for them, as the puck found its way from Karlsson to McNabb and in past Neuvirth to give the Knights their first lead of the game. Meh.
Things looked like they could get much worse soon after, as Gostisbehere taking a spill left Bellemare leading a 2 on 0 in on Neuvirth. But the Flyers found themselves saved by the fact that Bellemare passed the puck off to a phantom teammate, negating the rush.
Ghost falls down giving Bellemare a 2-on-0 chance, and well, he blew it. pic.twitter.com/dimwxiBQs0— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 12, 2018
And a bit more speed happened! The Flyers responded with an odd-man rush of their own, culminating in a dangerous looking shot by Raffl that was corralled by Fleury.
Were you wanting more? Hoping the Flyers could do something good? You’ve got it! The top line got to work in the offensive zone, cycling the puck around and breaking up the Golden Knights’ attempts to clear. It was just a bit more time that they needed--a puck sent in deep found Konecny, who lazered it over to Couturier in front of the net for the goal. And the Flyers picked up their first ever goal against Vegas.
Giroux➡️Konecny➡️Couturier = JACKPOT— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 12, 2018
1-1, tie game. pic.twitter.com/kj24VEptjt
With the final minute of the period ticking away, the Golden Knights got one more good chance at scoring on a floundering Neuvirth, but the Flyers then were finally able to get the last clear just before time expired. And we went into the first intermission still tied.
AFTER ONE: Flyers 1, Golden Knights 1
The Flyers took control at the start of the first period--helped out by two consecutive icings by the Golden Knights--and looked to get back to work in the offensive zone and build on the good work they were doing in the first period. This sort of happened, as they got a nice bit of activity going in the zone, but ultimately gave way for the the Knights to make a rush of their own, complete with a couple of good looks. But Neuvirth handled them, and they lived to fight another day.
The trend then swung back around: the Golden Knights were looking to get some momentum of their own and the Flyers were chasing, and iced the puck themselves three times in quick succession, making it more difficult still to get moving out of their zone.
And we’ve got an “E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!” chant! That’s fun!
Meanwhile, the game is still happening and the Flyers are continuing to work to re-establish themselves in the offensive zone.
But a bit of danger! The puck got cycled back into the Flyers’ zone, but they had control. Lehtera lost it and gave up a fast, quality chance for the Knights that the Flyers had to scramble to break up and Neuvirth to stop. They were successful, but ooh boy was it a stressful moment there.
And the Knights just won’t let up. We’re more than 12 minutes into the second period and the Flyers are being outshot 11-3. They can’t get out of the zone, and when they do, their rushes are broken up. Please, the Flyers, find a way. Do something else. Do something good.
Their next big chance came at the hands of the Filppula line, as they were finally able to get the puck in and set in the offensive zone, and a bit of sustained pressure. Shots came from MacDonald and Lehtera and ... well … you read the names. You know what happened. (Or didn’t).
It would be the first line taking over inside the last three minutes of the period, moving back into the offensive zone after the Knights spent a bit of time outside it. It started as a story we’d seen before: Konecny used his speed to get the play going and found Couturier with a pass to the front of the net. And it was all Couturier from here, really, as he more or less banked the puck off MacDonald and into the net. MacDonald got the goal, and we’ll still take it. The Flyers had their first lead of the game.
Andrew MacDonald with an accidental goal.— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 12, 2018
We'll take it!
2-1 Flyers pic.twitter.com/bMRKweap4P
The Laughton line got to work immediately after the goal, with Laughton getting a nice chance of this own that Fleury just saved in traffic, but the spark was clear.
This spark extended to the top line as they made their return to the ice, and it was magic again. Couturier carried the puck into the zone and, muscling hiy was around McNabb, threw the puck to the front of the net for Giroux to knock home.
Claude Giroux scores to put the Flyers up 3-1!— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 12, 2018
So about that decline he's on pic.twitter.com/1tVwu0s5NK
AFTER TWO: Flyers 3, Golden Knights 1
And we’re back with the third period! The Flyers still had the lead and were looking like they were trying to find the proper balance between defending well against the Knights’ advances, while also working to keep a bit of offense of their own going.
This started well enough as they maintained control of the puck in Vegas’ zone, even if they weren’t able to generate too many high quality chances. But the tides would turn as the Golden Knights took control of the puck and got set in their offensive zone for a handful of good looks. Neuvirth came up big for the Flyers here, stopping each of the shots he faced until they were able to finally get the puck moving in the other direction.
And we’ve got another Eagles chant!
Now we’re inside the final ten minutes and the Golden Knights are working to kick their game up another notch. They took control after a nice enough Flyers rush and took their time establishing more continuous pressure in the zone. They established themselves as a real presence around the crease and kept Neuvirth on his toes.
But now it’s the Flyers’ turn! After those few nice chances for the Knights, the Laughton and Patrick lines put up solid shifts in the offensive zone, chipping pucks to the net and eating away at the time remaining.
The story from here, for the Flyers, turned overwhelmingly into one of defense. With the Knights firing on all cylinders, they looked just as dangerous, if not more so, as they did all game. And they had a chance to bring this up even further.
With just over two and a half minutes left in regulation, Fleury came off the ice to get the extra attacker out, and the Flyers were working hard to neutralize this pressure, and what better way to do so than to have Gudas shovel the puck out of the zone and into the empty net to extend the Flyers’ lead to three. Jubilation ensued.
"Great job Dad! I'm so proud of you!" - Shayne Gostisbehere, probably pic.twitter.com/SfpM3nlPL5— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 12, 2018
And another Eagles chant!
With just a minute left to play, the puck was shuffled not too quickly around the ice, just to wind the clock down. And it did. And the Flyers won in the desert (again).
FINAL: Flyers 4, Golden Knights 1