Last night Flyers’ fans witnessed history as the Philadelphia Flyers (28-19-9) faced off for the first time ever against the expansion team Vegas Golden Knight (36-15-4). The Flyers’ fans did not disappoint either as they flooded the T-Mobile Arena with rivaling “Let’s Go Flyers!” and “Fly Eagles Fly!” chants. The building was electrifying and it was a very important game for the Flyers. The Golden Knights have had the best start to a season than any other expansion team as well as a 19-3-2 record at home. While the Flyers have had an up and down year as they battle for a better playoff position.
Saturday night the Flyers played the Arizona Coyotes and won in a shootout. Though the win brought the Flyers from the number one wild card spot to the 3rd overall spot in the Metropolitan Division they lost their starting goaltender Brian Elliott to a lower body injury in the second round of the shootout. These turns of events saw a trustworthy Michael Neuvirth starting in between the pipes against the best team in the Western Conference and third best in the entire NHL. In a battle for points this made this game that much more important.
The Golden Knights goaltender was an all too familiar face for the Flyers as Marc-Andre Fleury, an ex-Pittsburgh Penguin, was set to start between the pipes for the Knights. The game started almost like the Flyers’ previous game against the Coyotes, where it saw the Flyers facing an early deficit. They fell behind 1-0 as the first goal was scored by Brayden McNabb (11:22). Again, just like the night before the Flyers were able to answer back to a deficit. With 2:50 left in the first period we saw captain, Claude Giroux, make two great plays to keep the puck in the offensive zone and pass it to Travis Konecny where he found Sean Couturier (17:50) in front of the net and put it past Fleury to tie up the game for his team leading 28th goal. The first period ended with the Flyers having 7 total shots and the Golden Knights having 12. While the Flyers were also able to kill off the only powerplay in the game.
For most of the second period it was a defensive battle between the two teams. Leading up towards the end just like the 1st period, saw the Flyers score a late goal by one of the veteran defensemen Andrew MacDonald for his 3rd goal of the year (17:08) with Travis Konecny and Sean Couturier with the helpers. Then with six seconds left in the 2nd period Claude Giroux was able to put the Flyers up by two for his 18th of the year with Sean Couturier getting the assist. The two late goals for the Flyers were scored on two straight shots to end the period. The Flyers were out shot in the second period 7 to 15 in favor of the Golden Knights.
Last night saw a bit a theme for the Flyers. They scored late and were out shout by the Golden Knights all night. The Flyers held a 3-1 lead for most of the night causing the Golden Knights to pull Fleury and gave the opportunity for Radko Gudas to score his 1st goal of the year as hit put it into the empty net and sealed the game for the Flyers. Although the Flyers beat the Golden Knights 4-1 the Flyers were bombarded with shots. For the 3rd straight period the Golden Knights had double digit shots for a total of 39. But, Michael Neuvrith played on top of his head. He was able to bail the Flyers out several times and proved again to be a solid option for the Flyers while Elliott is out with injury.
As Neuvrith put on a defensive performance against one of the best teams in the NHL, it was Sean Couturier who had an offensive night. Couturier is having one of his best offensive years since being drafted in 2011 with already having a career year in goals (28), assists (29), and points (57). He has done this in less games as well with only playing in 56 games so far, this year. Although it was his first goal in 10 games, Couturier was able to put on a number 1-star performance with a goal and two assists to help the Flyers knock off the top team in the west.
The Flyers’ win was even greater because they are now currently ahead of the Devils by 3 points. Sunday night also saw the Devils lose to the Boston Bruins in regulation helping the Flyers gain some separation in the standings. The Flyers next game is Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils (27-20-8). The Flyers look to continue the separation with a win over the Devils. This is the 4th and final meeting between the Flyers and Devils with the Flyers currently holding a 2-1 season series advantage. Stay tuned for the game tomorrow night and see if the Flyers can make it 5 wins in a row and gain more ground in the playoff race!
Lead NHL and Philadelphia Flyers Content Contributor