The Flyers fold in Vegas, lose to the Golden Knights

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)

John Tortorella emphasized how important it was to put the Philadelphia Flyers‘ youth in an advantageous position to perform and develop. Bruce Cassidy knows teams are looking at the Vegas Golden Knights and bringing their best game to measure up to the best the NHL has to offer. Tuesday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas was meant for a head-on collision.

The best forechecking team was going to be victorious. Forechecking means an extension of offensive possessions and a collage of rapid pace, high-quality scoring chances in dirty areas with heavy traffic.

Before the opening faceoff, Cassidy said his team ‘didn’t start on time, really; bad line change, mismanage a puck, now it’s in our net, we’re chasing it, but we found it in the third,’ regarding their eventual win against the Chicago Blackhawks. His analysis of what happened against the Blackhawks fit what happened tonight versus the Flyers.

Philadelphia Flyers at Vegas Golden Knights

Noah Cates had his legs from the opening faceoff. He made a couple of possession-ending plays in the defensive and neutral zones to begin a transition into the offensive zone. For a few minutes, he delayed pressure from the Golden Knights attack.

Jonathan Marchessault pushed the attack from behind the net, allowing Jack Eichel an open shot on Carter Hart. Eichel didn’t get all of it, but Hart did serve the rebound. Ivan Barbashev swept the backhand past Hart, 1-0, with 13:06 remaining in the first period.

Scott Laughton had the first good scoring chance on Logan Thompson, looking to go top shelf from in close.

Joel Farabee helped Cates enter the offensive zone on a give-and-go chip pass. Cates sent the puck back to Farabee at the crease, which didn’t cross the goal line. Following up, Cates crashed the crease to tie the game, 1-1, with 6:53 remaining in the first period.

In front of Hart, the Flyers defense blocked shots. Vegas likes to generate offense off blocked shots if opposing defenses cannot clear the crease. A lot of high-danger opportunities were missed wide or blocked again. Emil Andrae and Travis Sanheim led the charge in clogging shooting lanes.

Cam Atkinson found the back of the net on what looked like a throw-away backhand shot on Thompson. The puck deflects off Thompson and into the back of the net, 2-1, with 2:41 remaining in the first period.

Cam York served for holding, though he wasn’t the actual culprit. The penalty kill set the tone for Hart throughout the second period, where he robbed Eichel almost a handful of times from scoring the equalizing goal. In the offensive zone, after Philadelphia killed the penalty, Atkinson was inches away from his second goal of the game. It seemed like Thompson had a tough time reading Atkinson.

Finding a new gear, the Golden Knights pinned the Flyers into their defensive zone. Hart continued to make saves, particularly on Eichel. Tyson Foerster served for slashing in the last minute of the second period, allowing Vegas to carry a powerplay into the start of the final frame for 1:27.

Laughton left to the bench and would return after blocking a shot to bring the penalty kill to 2/2. During even-strength hockey, Cates was very vocal in the offensive zone. He called for the puck on the crease, nearly scoring but missing wide. Then, Sanheim served for holding, but Mark Stone offset any Golden Knights advantage, bringing on a four-on-four scenario.

On the powerplay, Philadelphia finished 0/2. Hart was the best player on the ice, but then Vegas called their shots. They had the high majority of high-danger scoring chances throughout the contest, but they finally found their final gear.

“You don’t want to be on your heels, we talk about it in between periods. They turned it up. They throw caution to the wind, and you end up backing up a little bit and being a little tentative. Some of our younger players felt it a little bit, and these are the lessons we’re going to have to go through.”

John Tortorella; 10/24/2023

Paul Cotter shook Yegor Zamula to his core after Zamula made a heads-up play moments earlier in the defensive zone. Getting past Zamula, Cotter finished with a wrist shot on Hart, 2-2, with 7:54 remaining in the third period.

Then, Shea Theodore landed the final blow. Eichel, whom Hart turned away throughout the night by Hart, dropped the assist off to Theodore along the blue line. Theodore stalled, then picked his shot, a seeing-eye puck through traffic that found the back of the net, 3-2, with :31 seconds remaining in regulation. Hart did everything he could to make a play, but the Golden Knights executed the sequence better.

Hanging in closely with the reigning Stanley Cup Champions is a good sign. The Flyers measured their game against the best team in the NHL but tasted the agony of defeat instead of victory. Though they finished this small road trip 0-1-1, the way each lineup competed shows Tortorella is putting his roster in the best position to succeed while developing in the NHL.

“You just wish you get a point. We just can’t try to beat someone with thirty seconds left. That’s what starts that whole fiasco at the end. Situational play, understanding momentum of games; if we just move that puck, and we get it in deep, and allow ourselves to forecheck, we at least get a point. Instead, we’re running around in our endzone. But still, a lot of good things. We pack up, get out of here, and get ready for our next one.”

John Tortorella; 10/24/2023

Next Up

Next up, the Philadelphia Flyers are back home at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday, hosting the Minnesota Wild at 7:30pm.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)