Sometimes a game comes along where the superior team can't get a bounce and they lose. That's what happened to the Vegas Golden Knights against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Knights dominated possession, shot metrics and many other categories, but simply got outscored 4-1 against the Flyers. The lone Vegas goal scorer — Brayden McNabb...
Philadelphia’s win can mostly be accredited to an excellent performance by netminder Michal Neuvirth. Neuvirth stopped 38 of 39 shots for a .974 save percentage. This game comes after he allowed five goals in each of his previous two starts.
Sean Couturier picked up three points for the Flyers, with Travis Konecny and Claude Giroux both getting two. Defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Radko Gudas, rare goal scorers for the Flyers, both tallied as well. Gudas scored his first of the season, with the puck heading from deep in Philadelphia's own end into an empty net.
There were a ton of missed opportunities in this game for the Knights, but they kept generating opportunities. The loss is reminiscent of the Jan. 16 game against Nashville, where the Knights kept pushing the Predators, but Juuse Saros carried Nashville to a shutout victory.
Here's how the Knights dominated the puck:
Philadelphia had more shots just once in the game and for a very brief amount of time. The Knights' ability to generate is a positive takeaway from this game — they just need to get better bounces. They're still the team that beat the Tampa Bay Lightning handily.
McNabb opened the scoring with this snipe:
SNIPE CITY pic.twitter.com/G2TpRIjWiP— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) February 12, 2018
Yeah. That's McNabb, scoring a goal that sets his career high at four goals in a season. He had set his career high at three the game before this one and is now on a two-game scoring streak, the first in his career. That being the only score all game proved to be trouble, though.
Then Philly surged back.
Flyers tie it. Travis Konecny threads the needle to Sean Couturier. pic.twitter.com/sQCdqoMIs9— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) February 12, 2018
Shea Theodore needs to cut that pass off. Reilly Smith needs to be tighter on his man. But in the end, it's just a good play for the Flyers. The other two important goals for Philadelphia, though, are just bad plays by Vegas.
Flyers score. Andrew MacDonald pots his third of the season to give Philly the 2-1 lead. pic.twitter.com/bPznQtTzGN— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) February 12, 2018
Claude Giroux scores with 5.8 seconds remaining in the period. It's 3-1 now. pic.twitter.com/xVWdbu25D1— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) February 12, 2018
Neither of those are goals the Knights want to allow. The first bounces off MacDonald's skate and into the net. Nate Schmidt and McNabb just get lost in coverage, and it allows MacDonald (a defenseman) to crash the net.
The other, Giroux cleans up a puck left behind by Konecny. Again, the defense gets lost. That wasn't a problem for most of the game, but when it became an issue, it was an important one.
That's not how Vegas wants to end a period, especially not in the second or third.
Plays like this didn't help either.
Bellemare passes the puck to nobody on the 2-0! Interesting tactic! pic.twitter.com/BNUlIvGd7T— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) February 12, 2018
That's a momentum-swinger. If Pierre-Edouard Bellemare elects to shoot that, he probably gets it in the net. He thinks Alex Tuch is with him when he's not, which leads to an accident. Boy do the Knights need to get Tomas Nosek and the chemistry he brings with Bellemare back into the fold.
The Knights will try and right the ship against the Chicago Blackhawks when they return to action Tuesday.