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Golden Knights stumble against struggling Flyers

Updated December 11, 2021 - 7:55 am

For two straight days, Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer did everything short of sending out a group email warning that Friday was a trap game.

Despite his best efforts, the Knights couldn’t avoid a stumble against the struggling Philadelphia Flyers.

The Knights allowed two power-play goals in the third period and lost 4-3 in front of an announced crowd of 18,011 at T-Mobile Arena.

Sean Couturier and James van Riemsdyk scored in the third for Philadelphia, which won for the first time in three games under interim coach Mike Yeo and snapped a 10-game winless streak (0-8-2).

“You never want to lose to a team that’s lost 10 in a row,” winger Reilly Smith said. “When we’re playing at home, we have to make sure it’s harder on teams. We gave them too many odd-man rushes and made it easy on them. That’s just something we can’t do, especially when you have a team coming to town like that.”

Max Pacioretty scored twice, and William Karlsson finished off a pretty passing sequence late in the first period for the Knights, who saw their three-game win streak halted.

The Knights outshot Philadelphia 44-25, but never led and were stymied throughout by goalie Carter Hart.

Kevin Hayes put the Flyers ahead when he backhanded a loose puck past Knights goalie Laurent Brossoit 4:20 into the game.

Pacioretty cashed in a rebound with 1:30 remaining in the second period for the tying goal and added a power-play goal in the third that made the score 4-3. He extended his point streak to seven games and has goals in five straight.

Maxwell Willman notched his first NHL goal to put the Flyers ahead 2-1 at 5:53 of the second period.

“It’s frustrating, but I like our five-on-five game,” captain Mark Stone said. “If you watch the video on it, it looks pretty solid. But giving up five short-handed goals (the past two games) and only scoring one power-play goal, the odds aren’t great that you’re going to win the game.”

Here are three takeaways from the game:

1. Leading scorer out

The Knights played without first-line center Chandler Stephenson, who missed the game for personal reasons, according to DeBoer.

Stephenson appeared in every game before Friday and leads the Knights with 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists). DeBoer did not say how long he will be out.

Keegan Kolesar skated in Stephenson’s spot on the first line between Pacioretty and Mark Stone for most of the first two periods.

Pacioretty hit the post on a second-period breakaway, and Kolesar was visibly frustrated as he skated to the bench after one shift in the second period as the line struggled to generate much offense.

Nicolas Roy was bumped to the top line late in the second period, and Pacioretty scored on their first shift together.

“When we’re playing our best, we’re a four-line team,” DeBoer said. “With Stephenson out, we’re a little inexperienced up the middle, so we’re looking for combinations that can compete with those guys and it was a grind all night.”

2. PK can’t come through

For the second straight game, the Knights were let down by their normally reliable penalty kill.

The Flyers scored twice with the man advantage in the third period, including the winner, as Couturier blew a one-timer from the top of the right circle past Brossoit. Van Riemsdyk also scored with 10:23 remaining for a 4-2 lead.

“We’re going through a spell here where we’re making some mistakes, but pucks are going in, too,” DeBoer said. “And that’s on our goaltending and our penalty kill. When we’re really good, our detail is real good and we’re getting saves. Right now I think in those situations we’re not getting either of those things.”

Philadelphia entered with the league’s 30th-ranked road power play at 8.8 percent but went 2-for-3. The only power play they didn’t score on lasted four seconds when van Riemsdyk took a penalty.

Dallas scored three times on the power play Wednesday, though the Knights rallied for a 5-4 victory. After successfully killing 10 straight power plays from Nov. 27 to Dec. 5, the Knights have allowed goals five of their past six times short-handed.

“We’ve got to find ways to kill penalties,” Stone said. “We’ve got to be committed to blocking shots, winning faceoffs, getting pucks 200 feet. Maybe a little bit more aggressive if teams are outworking us, making those little plays at the netfront.”

3. Real Flyers show up

DeBoer warned that the Flyers would be a dangerous team and were due for a win. After a tumultuous week in which coach Alain Vignault was fired, they finally played close to their potential.

Hart finished with 41 stops to halt Philadelphia’s six-game losing streak in regulation.

This was the second time since October that the Flyers scored four or more goals after averaging 1.74 goals per game over their previous 19 outings, which was tied for worst in the league during that span.

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

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