The Vegas Golden Knights left another critical two points on the board when they suffered a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center.
The loss put an end to Vegas’ two-game winning streak and prevented the Knights from making headway in the Pacific Division standings.
Instead, the Flyers, winners of four of their previous 25 games, completed the series sweep thanks to a strong effort by Carter Hart, who made a career-high 47 saves.
The Knights outshot the Flyers 48-21, but Hart’s performance and Robin Lehner’s shaky first period proved to be the difference in this one.
Evgenii Dadonov scored on the power play to make it 2-1 in the second period, but the Knights were unable to get the equalizer.
The Flyers opened the scoring on a harmless shot from the point as Justin Braun sent a floater from the blue line that somehow made its way past Lehner at 4:44 of the first.
Noted sniper Justin Braun pic.twitter.com/7M3X9mAbNO— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) March 9, 2022
It was a tough goal to give up, especially against a team that has struggled to score and win all year.
Though the Knights controlled possession for most of the frame, it was the Flyers who grabbed the next one as well.
Lehner had denied Kevin Hayes on a wraparound attempt earlier in the period, but he was unable to get over to the far-side post in time to stop Oskar Lindblom from potting his 10th tally of the year.
Oskar Lindblom with goals in back-to-back games! pic.twitter.com/0Z8PigJWLr— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) March 9, 2022
It was a deflating goal for Lehner to surrender, and it came with under 51 seconds left in the first, giving the Flyers a 2-0 lead after one.
Both teams took penalties all night (including two aside in the first), but it was the Flyers who committed the costly one just under six minutes into the second period when they got caught with too many men on the ice.
The Golden Knights went back to their newly-established, go-to tic-tac-toe play on the power play, and this time they cashed in.
Jack Eichel fed Jonathan Marchessault, who found Dadonov in the bumper for the one-timer.
9+81+63= pic.twitter.com/wE6ni8dSgn— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 9, 2022
The goal made it 2-1 at 6:26 of the second period, as the Knights scored a power-play goal for the second straight game.
It was Dadonov’s first goal since Jan. 17 and second point in his last three games.
Notably, it was the Golden Knights’ first power-play goal scored on the road in 2022, and it shifted the momentum in Vegas’ favor.
The Golden Knights’ power play continued to look strong in the second, and if not for two clutch saves by Hart, the Knights would have evened things up at the tail end of the middle frame.
Why the Knights didn’t even it up in the second #VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/brRMAFQLL8— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) March 9, 2022
The Knights held a 31-16 lead in shots through two periods and had all the momentum at the sound of the horn.
They were the better team in the third period, but Hart took over the game.
Eventually, the Flyers, who have struggled in tight games all season, were content simply to clear the zone, doing whatever they could to help Hart defend the cage. They generated zero high-danger chances in the third and managed just five total shots and two scoring chances at 5-on-5.
A critical error by Ivan Provorov gifted the Knights a late power play — their fifth of the game — with 1:45 to go. The Knights had five shots on goal, several of which were prime scoring opportunities, but Vegas was unable to get one past Hart on the 6-on-4, losing 2-1 in the end.
The Flyers went 0-for-4 on the power play; the Knights went 1-for-5.
It was a must-win game for a Knights team in a very tight playoff race in the Western Conference, but once again, Vegas came up empty.
The Knights scored one goal on 48 shots, and it came on one of five power plays. That’s not going to cut it against a non-playoff team at this time of the season.
Lehner put Vegas in a tough spot early, but the Knights had more than enough chances to even things up. Lehner was overly aggressive and got caught multiple times, but the Flyers were only able to capitalize once; that’s something he’ll have to clean up since it was a glaring issue that most decent teams would have pounced on.
Lehner did make a few timely saves, including one on a deflection by Travis Konecny in the second. He held the Flyers off the board for the rest of the game, though Philadelphia didn’t generate much. The Flyers had 1.42 expected goals at all strengths; Vegas had 6.24.
At the end of the day, the Knights’ offense has to be able to score more than one goal in this kind of situation. Vegas was fortunate to win on Eichel’s buzzer-beater against Ottawa. The Senators and Flyers are teams the Knights have to be able to beat; there’s no way around that.
The Knights have another must-win game Thursday against the Sabres. It is sure to be an emotional night as Eichel makes his return to Buffalo. The Knights cannot continue to allow these games to pass them by if they hope to make the playoffs, let alone go on a run.