For most of Sunday night’s game, the Flyers were second best. During long stretches of play, the Golden Knights camped out in the offensive zone, firing shots at Michal Neuvirth’s goal. They looked like the best team in the Western Conference, while the Flyers looked like a tired team playing the second game of a West Coast back-to-back.
Despite being outshot 39-18, the Flyers made their opportunities count to beat the Golden Knights, 4-1 (see observations), behind a huge game from Neuvirth, who was stepping in for injured starter Brian Elliott.
Sean Couturier, who tied the game at one late in the first period with his 28th goal and assisted on the Flyers’ second and third goals, credited Neuvirth for giving the team a chance to win.
“I think they probably outplayed us for most of the night,” Couturier told reporters. “Neuvy kept us in the game and we got two lucky bounces to kind of get going a little bit, but we found a way to win and that's all that matters.”
The Flyers are finding a lot of ways to win these days. Saturday, they had a season-high 43 shots but needed seven shootout rounds and a clutch cameo from Neuvirth in the final five rounds to beat the NHL-worst Coyotes.
Sunday, they beat the Golden Knights, a team that was 19-3-2 at home, despite sparse offensive opportunities. Radko Gudas even scored his first goal of the season, an empty-netter. Overall, they have 65 points and sit in third in the Metropolitan Division, with four straight wins heading into Tuesday’s game against the Devils.
“For a night like tonight, to win on a back-back, you have to have good goaltending and you have to have a bunch of guys that are willing to lay it on the line and scratch and claw and find a way,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “And I think that sums up a little bit about our hockey team.”
If Elliott’s lower-body injury is serious, Neuvirth will need to maintain the high level he showcased against the Golden Knights. After stopping the final five shots of the shootout in relief of Elliott Saturday, he felt good heading into a matchup against one of the NHL’s top teams.
“It was huge coming off the bench yesterday and shutting the door,” Neuvirth said. “That gave me a lot of confidence coming into this game and back-to-back wins in our tough schedule is huge for us."
Claude Giroux, who has been thriving recently alongside Couturier and Travis Konecny on the first line, said the Flyers couldn’t have pulled off such an unlikely win without Neuvirth.
“Neuvy was the best player out there tonight,” Giroux said. “He made a lot of big saves, great opportunities that he was able to shut down. Without him tonight, we don’t win this game.”