Scoring chances were few and far between for the Flyers Sunday night in Las Vegas.
That wasn’t a huge surprise against the Golden Knights, who came into the game with 76 points, best in the Western Conference. But when the Flyers created opportunities, they made them count in a 4-1 win over the Golden Knights.
Overall, the Flyers were outshot, 39-18. The most shots they had in a single period was seven, which they did in each of the first two periods. Michal Neuvirth started in goal, replacing Brian Elliott, who suffered a lower-body injury in the Flyers’ 4-3 shootout win over the Coyotes Saturday. He kept the Flyers in the contest, saving 38 shots.
It seemed like Sean Couturier, who registered three points, was at the center of everything the Flyers did offensively.
With their fourth-straight win, the Flyers now have 65 points through 56 games.
• Brayden McNabb scored the game’s first goal 11:22 into the first period, ending an extended period of possession for the Golden Knights with a pinpoint shot that beat Neuvirth high to his glove side.
• Shortly after, former Flyer Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who the Golden Knights selected in the expansion draft, had a prime scoring chance. Bellarme had a 1-on-0 with Alex Tuch trailing shortly behind. Bellemare carried the puck right to the front of the net but, instead of shooting, wasted the scoring chance by passing it wide to the right out of Tuch’s reach.
Once a Flyer, always a Flyer? pic.twitter.com/L6fD2MZ1wn— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) February 12, 2018
• The Flyers tied it up at one with 2:10 left in the first. Claude Giroux found Travis Konecny on the right side, and the 20-year-old centered a beautiful pass in front to Sean Couturier, who beat Marc-Andre Fleury. It was Couturier's 28th goal of the season.
“We had good cycling down low and we were able to keep the puck moving around and creating some space,” Couturier said after the first period. “We were aggressive at the blue line and G made a nice play to keep it from going out and caught them with a good turnover. I went to the net hard and TK found me and it was a tap-in.”
After a pointless outing against the Coyotes, Konecny’s pass was key in sparking the Flyers, who were outshot 12-7 in the first period.
• The Golden Knights almost regained the lead near the end of the first, as Neuvirth struggled with rebound control. However, he did well to stop a series of close-range shots.
• Vegas spent much of the action early in the second period in the offensive zone, as the Flyers had just one shot in the first 9 minutes of the period before Michael Raffl broke free for a transition opportunity. He went near post with a backhand, which Fleury easily handled.
• The Flyers were on their back foot most of the game; outside of the occasional breakaway, they didn’t seem to pose much of an offensive threat. The power play, which had scored twice in each of the last two games, had no opportunities the entire night.
• Andrew McDonald gave the Flyers an unlikely lead with 2:52 remaining in the second, scoring his third goal of the season thanks to some good fortune. Konecny connected again with Couturier in front of the net. Couturier appeared to skew his shot wide of the net, but the puck deflected off MacDonald’s skate into the goal, wrong-footing Fleury.
Andrew MacDonald will get credit fore the goal, but this one was set up by TK and Coots. pic.twitter.com/w89gQ7uMrx— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) February 12, 2018
• Only right that after mustering up just four shots on goal in the first 17-plus minutes of the second period, the Flyers struck twice in under a three-minute span. Couturier recorded his third point of the game here and he really earned it. The Flyers’ center carried the puck from the blue line all the way to the right side of the net before dropping it off to Giroux right in front to finish off for the score. Giroux’s 18th goal of the season gave the Flyers a 3-1 lead heading into the second intermission.
• The third period was a lot like the start of the second, with the Flyers spending most of the time in their own zone trying to protect the two-goal lead. With under three minutes remaining, the Golden Knights were outshooting the Flyers 11-2 in the period.
• Radko Gudas’ first goal of the season sealed the win with 2:26 remaining. With Fleury pulled, Gudas gained possession in the defensive zone and flipped the puck into the empty net.
• This was a big improvement on Neuvirth’s last start, when he allowed 5 goals on 20 shots against Washington on Jan. 31 before being pulled for Alex Lyon in the middle of the third period. He anticipated well and maintained his concentration during stretches where he was being bombarded with shots.
Still, Neuvirth is not known for his consistency. If Elliott’s absence is extended, it will be interesting to see how long a leash Hakstol gives Neuvirth if he has an off night. That obviously won’t be an issue if Neuvirth continues to play as well as he did Sunday.
• After a quick weekend road trip, the Flyers return home to face the Devils on Tuesday. The Flyers have taken two of their three meetings against New Jersey this season.