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Recap: Flyers break out of losing streak with 4-3 win over Vegas

They did it! They really did it!

Philadelphia Flyers v Vegas Golden Knights Photo by David Becker/NHLI via Getty Images

Wait, they can do that?

The Philadelphia Flyers earned a regulation win over the Vegas Golden Knights the only way they really know how to this season: Getting completely destroyed at 5-on-5, scoring a power play goal, getting lucky, and Carter Hart standing on the very tip of his head. And with that, the 10-game losing streak has been broken and this team has earned their first post-Vigneault win.

While the process didn’t necessarily instilling the most confidence, this team will certainly not suddenly hoist themselves back into playoff consideration, but it is at least nice to get out of this significant slump. If we all agree to ignore the fact that Vegas had over 60 percent of the shot attempts and 57.15 percent of the expected goals share at 5-on-5, all while the Flyers handed the Knights five man advantage opportunities, we can just chalk it up as a success that will no doubt mean more points to come.

Not only did the Flyers as a team get out of a drought, but James van Riemsdyk scored a goal (yes, he can actually do that) and a little rookie named Max Willman got his first. Just a surface-level feel-good win is all you need to know. Don’t pay attention to what is behind the goaltender-shaped curtain.

The Flyers were able to start this one off on the right foot — which is certainly a better feeling than the projected prospects of dragging our feet to watch another performance similar to the one they put up against the New Jersey Devils earlier in the week. Just a minute in, they were able to actually score a goal, something they didn’t do in their last match.

Kevin Hayes put the Flyers on the board within the first five minutes after doing a lot of the work himself to make the play happening. An entry into the zone, a pass back to the point as he sneaks by the opposite side of the net, and then is able to put on display a wild backhand shot off a wild puck.

For just a fleeting moment, we all thought we would be heading into the first intermission feeling good and feeling fine. Riding high on some strong play and ability to stave off a strong Knights team for 20 minutes, would have certainly made us not feel so terrible about spending our Friday night watching these two teams play. But of course, the Flyers just had to succumb to an equalizing goal with less than a minute left in the first.

It all comes down to just a major collapse that we have grown way too accustomed to. Not going to criticize any split-second decision making, but I’m not not going to do that as well. The fact that there were multiple players just wandering and seeming to just go back to the goal line as it was a formality, is not very useful defense. Maybe it was the two Flyers biting on the play behind the net, leaving open space in front of Hart, or just all attention being paid in that general direction — whatever it was, it didn’t look good!

All of that was quickly washed away when rookie Max Willman was able to score a little bit of a storybook first career NHL goal on his very first shot, to put the Flyers ahead 2-1 in the second period.

One of the somewhat good things of watching a very bad hockey team, is having little moments like this one. A young forward that has been down in the depths of the ECHL, worked hard enough to earn an opportunity on the big stage, and is able to get a significant career milestone out of the way. With the rotating cast of players, things like this will happen.

And sometimes, it also reminds you how damn bad this team has been.

And as if the two periods were set up to build up hope in all of us and then disappoint us within the final moments, Vegas was able to come back — even after the Flyers had some strong scoring chances of their own — and tie up the game a second time with a demoralizing goal from Max Pacioretty.

There’s no one specific that you can blame on this one. Maybe Pacioretty shouldn’t have been given that space in the slot, but it was just a brief moment of over-skating from one Flyers defender that gave him those necessary inches to get his shot off.

This goal was no doubt a result of the Knights forcing the game back into their hands. The chances just became too much for the Flyers towards the final minutes of the second period. After Philadelphia had their second power play of the game, and with four minutes left in the period, Vegas managed to get off six shot attempts in the next two minutes without facing any from their opposition, and the last one went in the back of the Flyers’ net.

In the third period, while relying solely on Carter Hart to not make this game runaway from them, the Flyers were able to earn a power play. And guess what the hell they did. They scored a goal and took the lead for the third time in the same amount of periods.

Claude Giroux earned one of the assists on Sean Couturier’s power play tally, and with that point, the captain earned the sole top spot of most power play points in franchise history. Look at that!

Despite the goal, in very typical Flyers fashion, their opponent was able to just unload shot attempts on them in the final critical moments of this game, but they got yet another goal on the power play.

James van Riemsdyk’s slump-breaking tally also marked the first time the Flyers were able to score multiple goals on the man advantage in a game since the third game this season. That’s a big stretch of nothing.

Vegas made a game out of the final minutes. Pacioretty netted his second of the game during a 6-on-4 scenario with less than two minutes remaining, but who cares about that when it didn’t even mean anything. Sure, Philadelphia kind of shot themselves in the foot and could have handed an eventual multi-goal comeback win in overtime for the home team. But they didn’t! So whatever.

Will they continue this success against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday? Well, considering that they are certainly the worst team in the league, the chances of having two consecutive victories for the first time since Oct. 28 is fairly good. Just maybe.

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