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3 takeaways from Golden Knights’ loss: Offense sputters again

Updated March 8, 2022 - 8:52 pm

Shea Theodore had the look.

The Golden Knights defenseman got the puck in the right circle with 1:04 remaining and his team down a goal to the Philadelphia Flyers. There was room above goaltender Carter Hart’s right shoulder. The chance was there for the Knights to repeat the late-game magic that led to a victory over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday.

But the window closed as soon as it opened. Flyers right wing Cam Atkinson got his stick across in time to block Theodore’s shot out of play and end the Knights’ best and final hope at a comeback.

There would be no delirious celebration this time. Instead, the Knights started their season-long, five-game trip lamenting a missed opportunity after losing 2-1 to the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

“We’ve got to outwork the opponent,” left wing Jonathan Marchessault said. “I don’t think we’re doing that. Teams are checking us a little too easy in the o-zone.”

The Knights controlled the puck almost the entire game against Philadelphia, last in the Metropolitan Division standings. Shots on goal were 48-21 in favor of the road team. Shot attempts were 88-48.

But the Knights fell behind early. Defenseman Justin Braun got a wrister past goaltender Robin Lehner from 57 feet away 4:44 into the first period on the Flyers’ first shot on goal. Left wing Oskar Lindblom added another goal on a wraparound with 51 seconds left in the period.

Those goals were the difference. Left wing Evgenii Dadonov scored the Knights’ goal on a power play 6:26 into the second period.

Hart finished with 47 saves for his second win in his past seven starts. The Knights finished with two or fewer goals for the seventh time in 12 games since the All-Star break. They have 27 goals in that span, the third-fewest in the NHL.

“Getting behind 2-0, you’re chasing the game all night,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “We’ve got to find a way to score more than one goal and no even-strength goals.”

Here are three takeaways from the loss:

1. Power play perks up

The Knights’ power play showed signs of life again after center Jack Eichel’s game-winning goal Sunday against Ottawa. Just not enough to deliver a win.

The Knights ended an ugly streak with Dadonov’s goal because it was their first road power-play goal since Dec. 28 against Los Angeles. It snapped an 0-for-27 skid on the man advantage away from T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights finished 1-for-5 on the power play with 14 shots. They got a late opportunity when defenseman Ivan Provorov went to the penalty box with 1:45 left for delay of game, but couldn’t score even with Lehner on the bench and a six-on-four advantage.

“(The power play) was creating chances, creating momentum for the next guys to go (on the ice) after,” defenseman Zach Whitecloud said. “They did a great job for us.”

2. Goalie duel

Lehner has been excellent since returning from an upper-body injury March 1, with a .929 save percentage in four starts.

Hart was still the better goaltender. His 47 saves were a season high, besting the 41 he made against the Knights on Dec. 10. He’s the third goaltender in Flyers history to make 47 saves in a win and first since 2008.

Lehner made 19 saves. He committed hard to defending his right post on Lindblom’s goal before the forward skated around the net and beat him to the other side.

“(Hart’s performance) was unbelievable,” Braun said. “Anytime you give up that many shots and come out with a W, that’s probably on your goalie having a great night.”

3. Dadonov ends skid

DeBoer, who demoted Dadonov to the fourth line Sunday, said after Tuesday’s morning skate that the left wing was competing hard but needed to get his confidence back.

Dadonov took a step in that direction against the Flyers. His goal was his first in 17 games. He also had four shots on goal, his most in 12 games.

“He was carrying around a double-digit scoring drought for a long time, and he was wearing it,” DeBoer said. “Hopefully that’s a sign of things to come.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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