The Philadelphia Flyers got a crucial win in their first every game at T-Mobile Arena against the NHL-best Vegas Golden Knights.
Thus far this season, the Vegas Golden Knights had been pretty much unstoppable in the confines of T-Mobile Arena, having lost just three times in regulation all year. It is a huge part of the reason that the expansion franchise sits atop the Pacific Division with a record of 36-15-4 and, depending what the Tampa Bay Lightning are doing, have the best record in all of hockey.
As a result, one of the most exclusive groups in pro sports is made up of clubs that have defeated Vegas at home. The list includes the Detroit Red Wings, the New York Islanders and the Dallas Stars.
And as of Sunday, the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Flyers beat the Golden Knights 4-1 in the first-ever meeting between the two clubs and handed Vegas just their fourth regulation loss at home this season.
The Golden Knights jumped out to an early 1-0 lead thanks to a first period goal by defenseman Brayden McNabb, but after that it was all Orange and Black.
Sean Couturier tied it up late in the first when he one-timed the puck past Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to make the score 1-1. Then Andrew MacDonald gave the Flyers the go ahead goal when the puck bounced off his skate and found the back of the net. Claude Giroux scored in the closing seconds of the second period which was followed by Radko Gudas’ first goal of the season when he scored an empty-netter in the closing moments of the third.
But the real star of the game has to be goalie Michal Neuvirth, who seems to have found his rhythm again after coming back from injury. There were some questions if he could be counted on to provide the same stabilizing presence that Brian Elliott has this season, but those seem to have been answered.
After coming in midway during a shootout on Saturday to give the Flyers a 4-3 win against the Arizona Coyotes, Neuvirth stopped 38 of 39 shots on goal, including all 27 he faced in the second and third frames, to give Philadelphia the incredibly rare win in Las Vegas.
The Vegas fans, known around the NHL for being some of the loudest and rowdiest in the league, seemed to be split on who exactly they were rooting for. There was lots of orange and black to be seen in the crowd while chants of “Let’s Go Flyers!” and of course “E-A-G-L-E-S!” could be heard numerous times throughout the game.
The win puts the Flyers at 28-19-9 for the season and firmly in control of their own destiny. Every game is huge from here on out and none may be bigger than Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils. The game has massive implications for postseason seeding and a win would go a long way towards making things a lot easier for the Flyers in the playoffs.
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The Flyers have just 26 games left and it looks like every one will count. Get ready for a wild ride to the finish line of the 2017-18 season.