As a fun way of introducing the players from this season’s Golden Knights roster, the team produced a parody of the opening credits and theme song from the old hit TV show “Happy Days.”
The social media video featured multiple references to Fonzie, including center William Karlsson pretending to comb his hair in front of the mirror and newcomer Max Pacioretty performing the iconic thumbs-up pose.
But with a franchise-record announced crowd of 18,555 at T-Mobile Arena ready to party on opening night, the Knights came down with a case of Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.
Much like the oldest son from “Happy Days” who mysteriously disappeared in season two of the show, the Knights quietly faded away Thursday and lost 5-2 to Philadelphia.
“We need to be ready. This was definitely not good enough of an effort,” Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault said. “Every night there’s good hockey teams. And if we’re not ready, we’re going to get spanked like we just did.”
Marchessault scored in the first period and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare added a short-handed goal midway through the third for the Knights, who have a losing record (0-1) for the first time in franchise history.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled for Malcolm Subban with 9:49 remaining in the second period after allowing five goals on 16 shots.
The Knights won nine of their first 10 games at home in their inaugural season.
“Pretty disappointed. Obviously things didn’t go our way at all,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “We gave them too much time and too much space in the neutral zone. We weren’t up and tight like we usually are, and they took advantage of it.”
The pregame ceremony included a video with highlights from last season as the Pacific Division and Western Conference championship banners hung from the rafters.
But despite a quick start and a 52-41 advantage in overall shot attempts, the Knights weren’t sharp. They bobbled pucks and struggled to sort out their defensive coverage.
“Obviously teams are going to be more ready when they come here,” Marchessault said. “It was all us. The (defenseman) has the puck and we don’t give options on the wall. We’re far from each other. Didn’t manage the puck well on both blue lines. Just bad decisions the whole game.”
Wayne Simmonds notched two goals for Philadelphia, and defenseman Robert Hagg had a goal and an assist.
The Flyers scored five unanswered goals, including three during a span of four minutes, 19 seconds in the second period.
“I just feel like we were a little late. That’s the biggest problem I felt like,” Bellemare said. “The first 10 (minutes) were OK, a bit sloppy. But then after that, I feel like we were a half-second too late on each situation and that creates usually a bad play for someone.”
The Knights outscored their opponents 34-16 in the preseason while winning six of seven games, but looked shaky defensively after Marchessault took advantage of a bad line change by the Flyers and scored at 6:37 of the opening period.
Defenseman Jon Merrill was caught up ice leading to a 2-on-1 break for Philadelphia, and Oskar Lindblom finished off the rush at 11:34 to tie the score 1-1.
Simmonds put the Flyers on top 2-1 with 1:17 left in the first when he was left uncovered at the top of the crease and poked a loose puck across the goal line after Fleury couldn’t handle a shot from distance by Hagg.
“It’s one out of 82,” Pacioretty said. “We got the first one out of the way and now we look to build on it. The good news is, we know what went wrong and we know how to change it.” Golden Knights 2018 Season Opener
1. Point for Fleury. Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled midway through the second period, but henotched an assist on Jonathan Marchessault’s first-period goal. Fleury was credited with one assist last year and now has15 for his career.
2. Physical Patches. Forward Max Pacioretty didn’t score in his Knights debut but was intent on mixing it up physically.Pacioretty was given a roughing penalty in the second period and tied for the team lead with Ryan Reaves with five hits.
3. Balanced Flyers. Philadelphia’s first line of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny were held off thescoresheet. But the Flyers showed their depth, as 11 players recorded points.
David Schoen Review-Journal