Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 38 Philadelphia shots and won his 400th career game as the Las Vegas Golden Knights defeat the Flyers 3-2 from the Wells Fargo Center Monday night.
With the win, the 13-year veteran has now defeated the Flyers 28 times in his career, 27 of which came while he was with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Fleury becomes the 13th goalie in NHL history to record 400 career wins. He currently is third among active goaltenders in wins, sitting behind Roberto Luongo and Henrik Lundqvist.
The Golden Knights got on the board first Monday night, as it took just over six minutes for Las Vegas to beat Petr Mrazek on the power play. Nate Schmidt skated the puck over the Flyers’ blue line, and found David Perron, who quickly dished it toward the net to Erik Haula. Haula fired the puck from a sharp angle, likely trying to locate the stick of Colin Miller to the far side of Mrazek, but the intended pass never reached Miller, as it was poked out in front by Mrazek and took an awkward spin, careening into the net for the early 1-0 lead.
The goal was Haula’s 25th of the season, and the assist was Perron’s 46th, giving him a share of the record for most assists by a player on an expansion team. With more than ten games remaining, it’s likely that Perron will own that record by year’s end.
The period would end this way, as the Golden Knights took a 1-0 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes of play.
For the second consecutive game, however, the Flyers quickly lit the lamp out of the first intermission. After Philadelphia scored four minutes into the second period against the Winnipeg Jets, they one-upped that effort Monday night, when Claude Giroux found the back of the net for the 25th time this season less than 90 second into the period.
The Golden Knights turned the puck over in the neutral zone, which was picked up by Travis Konecny and quickly dished to Giroux, who had enough time to pick his spot, as he beat Fleury glove side high to tie the game at one goal each.
The goal keeps Giroux’s point streak rolling, as the captain has now scored in seven consecutive games.
The second period would end tied at one, as each team would head to the locker room looking for two critical points. The Flyers outshot the Golden Knights through two periods, 25-17, but failed to score on two power play opportunities.
The Flyers penalty kill woes would surface for the second time Monday night, as six minutes into the third period, William Karlsson netted his 36th goal of the season. Karlsson secured a loose rebound that ricocheted off Mrazek from a shot by Shea Theodore from the point. The initial shot left Mrazek well out of position, and Karlsson had half the net to shoot at. The Karlsson goal was the second of the night for the Golden Knights on the power play. The Flyers have now given up 50 goals on 198 penalty kill opportunities, which drops them to 30th in the league, at 74.7 percent. This puts the Flyers above just the Edmonton Oilers in this category.
The Golden Knight lead would be short lived, however, as the Flyers would tie the game at two 66 seconds later off the stick of Wayne Simmonds.
The goal was facilitated by a tremendous play by Claude Giroux, who received a break out pass from Jakub Voracek over the blue line. In stride, Giroux located the puck, moved it with his skate onto his stick, and moved the puck forward. The puck would eventually find Simmonds’ stick, which was lodge just outside the weak side post, and was buried by Simmonds.
The goal was Simmonds’ 21st of the season, and first since February 16.
With the game tied at two, the Flyers looked to improve on their impressive record when Wayne Simmonds scores. Philadelphia has only lost twice, once in overtime, in 18 previous tries when Simmonds scored.
That would not be the case, though, as, with just 2:40 remaining in the third, the Golden Knights took the lead, this time for good, on a goal scored by Ryan Carpenter.
The puck found its way deep into the corner, and scrum for possession ensued. Former Flyer, Pierre Edouard Bellmare, ever-grinding, was able to come away with the puck and find the stick of Cody Eakin. Eakin quickly moved the puck to Carpenter, who buried a shot past Mrazek for his eighth goal of the season. The goal was the first for Carpenter since being claimed by the Golden Knights off waivers from the San Jose Sharks.
Philadelphia fails to gain ground in the Metropolitan Division with the loss, as the Flyers remain three points back of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and are now four points behind the Metro-leading Washington Capitals, who defeated the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 Monday night. The loss drops the Flyers to 35-24-11 (81 points) this season.
Las Vegas inches closer to the Western Conference leading Nashville Predators with the win, improving to 45-19-5 (95 points) on the season. They trail Nashville by three points.
With the win, the Golden Knights spilt the two game season series with the Flyers, who defeated Las Vegas on the road last month. Each team defeated the other away from their home arenas.
The Flyers will take the ice again Thursday night, when they welcome the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Wells Fargo Center for a critical Metropolitan Division matchup. You can hear all the action on 93.3 WMMR!
-By Tyler Zulli