Flyers swept by Golden Knights, lose 5-3

Flyers' Travis Sanheim celebration
Philadelphia Flyers’ Travis Sanheim, right, and Noah Cates celebrate after a goal by Sanheim during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Vegas Golden Knights, Tuesday, March 14, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

It’s the first home game of the Daniel Briere era, the new interim general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Aiming to split the season series versus the Vegas Golden Knights, the Flyers must disrupt a three-game losing skid. The Golden Knights escaped with a 2-1 victory in overtime at the T-Mobile Arena. John Tortorella, Briere, and company hope to be on the winning side of another competitive battle with the leaders of the NHL Pacific Conference.

Did Philadelphia hang in tough with Vegas? Here’s how it went down from the Wells Fargo Center!

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Vegas Golden Knights

Felix Sandstrom started between the pipes for the Philadelphia Flyers while Carter Hart was out due to illness. Samuel Ersson served as the backup recalled on an emergency loan.

Kevin Hayes had the first crack at Jonathan Quick. Cam York put a puck on goal from the point, and Hayes nearly backhanded the rebound out of mid-air. With the first scoring chance of regulation came the first powerplay chance. Owen Tippett had a quick scoring chance on a one-timer dished by Tony DeAngelo, but Quick made the save. The Vegas Golden Knights’ penalty kill disrupted the rest of the man advantage from the Flyers, not allowing another established possession upon entry.

Dipping after finishing 0/1 on the powerplay, the Golden Knights began to dictate the pace. Pavel Dorofeyev scored the opening goal, gaining possession behind Sandstrom with a wrap-around over-the-shoulder finish; 1-0. DeAngelo was on the doorstep to tie the game before the end of the first period, but Quick made another big save.

Morgan Frost put Philadelphia back on the penalty kill with a costly penalty, covering the puck and resetting in stride through the neutral zone. Shea Theodore stretched the lead, 2-0, on the powerplay, making the Flyers 0/1 on the penalty kill.

Travis Sanheim answered a few minutes later. Recovering the puck from traffic in the crease, he reset for a shooting lane, and the puck deflected past Quick; 2-1. Soon after, Sanheim lost his composure in the defensive zone, shaken up by Paul Cotter on the way to a scoring play finished by Teddy Blueger. The overall sequence was both fortunate and unfortunate for Philadelphia as the scoreboard favored Vegas, 3-1.

Tyson Foerster stood out on the Flyers’ powerplay, despite no conversion. He had three shots on goal, including one that bounced off the post. Foerster came within inches of scoring his first NHL goal and ending a long powerplay scoring drought, but alas. Tortorella stressed setting traffic net-front and getting the stick on the pucks. At large, Philadelphia attempted to adapt, but Quick remained true through the second period.

Scott Laughton began the third period in the box to serve the remaining 1:58 of his penalty. Sandstrom flashed a pad to keep the puck out of the net, and Joel Farabee hustled the puck into the offensive zone to kill more time. It was the only real example of a successful penalty kill from the Flyers, making them 1/2 temporarily. Kieffer Bellows served a bench penalty for too many men on the ice, and the Golden Knights converted for the second time on the powerplay; this time Jonathan Marchessault on a one-timer, making the score 4-1. Philadelphia sank to 1/3 on the penalty kill.

Down by three, the game wasn’t out of reach. Nick Seeler scored the Flyers’ goal of the year, dipsy-doing through the legs of Theodore on the way to hitting the top shelf on Quick; 4-2. Then, Frost redeemed his earlier mistake by finishing a one-time setup from Brendan Lemieux to strike within one, 4-3.

“I just saw an opportunity. We had a good reload by our forwards, and we had numbers back. I figured, why not get something going, and thankfully it worked out.”

Nick Seeler; 3/14/2023

Tortorella pulled Sandstrom with 2:20 left in regulation. Ivan Barbashev scored the empty-net goal to cap the final score at 5-3. Hayes earned a penalty with a second remaining in regulation, technically boosting Philadelphia to an unearned 2/4 on the penalty kill.

Penalties (-)

An ongoing theme captures the Philadelphia Flyers playing with fighting spirit but undisciplined. Tortorella doesn’t want to take away any tenacity, but spending time in the penalty box tonight was the difference maker in an otherwise solid performance from a rebuilding franchise against a division-leading team.

First, Frost commits a dumb penalty, covering the puck with his hand and dumping the puck in front of him by going around his back like a basketball handle. An avoidable mistake turned into a powerplay goal by Theodore. Remember, the Flyers are a team who must routinely play as close to perfectly as possible to compete with most of the NHL.

“Penalties hurt us; taking too many men on the ice and grabbing the puck, it’s just hard to overcome those.”

John Tortorella; 3/14/2023

Add another powerplay goal surrendered due to too many men on the ice, and Philadelphia gave away two free scoring plays to the 17th best powerplay in the league while housing the 26th best penalty kill.

Tyson Foerster (+)

Though the powerplay did not convert an opportunity, Foerster was very noticeable. On the second powerplay chance for the Philadelphia Flyers, he came within inches of scoring his first NHL goal.

In three NHL games, Foerster is taking encouraging steps. He has a live shot. It’s NHL ready, though he, as a player, will continue to mature in the AHL as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms battle for a postseason berth.

“Foerster is going to help it; a bright spot for me, again. He’s got really good puck poise, hits the post coming downhill on a rebound. We’re going to keep working at it.”

John Tortorella; 3/14/2023

Foerster, Tippett, and DeAngelo were prominent on the extra man advantages due to puck possession, nearly breaking a long powerplay drought.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)