Golden Knights stumble in 2nd period, fall 4-1 to Flyers

Updated February 11, 2018 - 10:44 pm

Sundays usually are fun days for the Golden Knights.

This time, not so much.

Despite holding more than a 2-to-1 advantage in shots on goal, the Knights allowed two goals late in the second period and fell 4-1 to the surging Philadelphia Flyers at T-Mobile Arena in the opener of a seven-game homestand.

“That’s on us for sure. It was a three-minute lull or whatever it was,” Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb said. “They had opportunities and they capitalized, and we weren’t able to. It’s frustrating, but we have to move on.”

The Knights, who were 8-0 on Sundays entering the game, saw their lead over San Jose in the Pacific Division trimmed to eight points. They have now lost two straight on home ice for the first time this season.

McNabb put a charge into the announced crowd of 18,220 with a goal in the first period for the Knights (36-15-4, 76 points), who outshot Philadelphia 39-18 overall.

But the Knights were unable to put much traffic in front of Michal Neuvirth, who started after the Flyers’ No. 1 goaltender Brian Elliott was injured Saturday at Arizona and made 38 stops.

“We got a ton of shots but nothing that was real dangerous and their goalie saw everything tonight,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “And they scored their goals around the blue paint. Definitely, that was the difference in the game.

“You score goals around the blue paint; we didn’t get there tonight. Philly did a great job keeping us out.”

The Flyers (28-19-9, 65 points) were playing their third game in four days and rode the top line of Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny to their fourth straight victory.

Couturier finished with a goal and two assists, Giroux had a goal and an assist and Konecny added two assists.

Defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Radko Gudas (empty net) also scored for Philadelphia.

“It was a hell of an effort,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “To win back-to-back, you have to have good goaltending and a bunch of guys willing to lay it on the line. They found a way and that sums up a little bit about our hockey team.”

The Knights outshot Philadelphia 15-7 in the second, but the Flyers struck for two goals in the final 2:52 of the period to put the Knights in a 3-1 hole.

MacDonald was credited with his third goal of the season when Couturier’s shot from close range went off the Flyers defenseman’s leg at the 17:08 mark.

Giroux gave Philadelphia a two-goal lead with 5.8 seconds remaining in the second, as he tapped a loose puck past Marc-Andre Fleury (14 saves) after Couturier drove hard to the net around McNabb.

“I think we had the puck for the most part in the second, but like I said, we weren’t in the paint and … we didn’t make it hard on him,” Knights forward William Karlsson said. “Then they got two chances and they buried them. That’s hockey.”

The Knights grabbed a 1-0 lead with 8:38 left in the first period when McNabb’s wrister beat Neuvirth on the glove side for his second goal in as many games and fourth of the season.

Knights forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare squandered a breakaway against his former team soon after, and the Flyers were able to tie the game with 2:10 remaining in the first when Konecny found Couturier driving to the net for the tap-in.

“If you’re not strong enough in the blue paint, that’s where you lose the game,” Bellemare said. “The coach told us at the end of the second, it might look like we’re controlling the game, but they are in the tough areas and we are not.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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