The game was played in Las Vegas so perhaps it was only fitting the Flyers were in a gambling mood on Friday night.
After playing what coach Mike Yeo described as a “safe” game against New Jersey in a 3-0 loss on Wednesday night, the Flyers pressed the attack much more in this game and came away with a 4-3 win over the Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena, ending a 10-game (0-8-2) winless streak.
It was Yeo’s first win as Flyers coach.
In addition to goaltender Carter Hart’s brilliant play, Sean Couturier’s power-play goal at 3:54 of the third period broke a 2-2 tie. The goal ended a 14-game goal-less streak for Couturier. The Flyers had not won a game since Nov. 16 (2-1 over Calgary). James van Riemsdyk’s power-play goal at 9:37 made it 4-2. He snapped an 11-game goal-less streak.
“When your goalie is playing the way Hart was playing tonight, I think it allows you to play more aggressively in certain situations,’’ Yeo said after the game. “But also with a sense of composure, calmness. That’s what he did for us tonight.’’
A goal by Max Pacioretty with 1:45 to play with the Flyers on the penalty kill narrowed the margin to 4-3.
This was the first time the Flyers registered two power-play goals since the third game of the season.
“The two power-lay goals were massive for us,’’ Yeo said. “It’s not just scoring the goals. It’s the way they looked. I thought they looked dangerous, aggressive.’’
Hart made some extraordinary saves, allowing his team to play a more offensive-minded game. He finished with a season-high 41 saves.
Max Willman’s first National Hockey League goal at 5:53 of the second period gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead.
Willman fired a shot from the right circle and beat goaltender Laurent Brossoit and looked like he had a celebration planned, as he did the knee dive/slide.
But the Flyers couldn’t get to the second intermission with a lead. Pacioretty crashed the net and when Hart left a big rebound, the winger cashed in with 90 seconds on the clock.
It was a similar scenario in the first period. The Flyers scored first but Vegas tied it again in the final minute of play.
Kevin Hayes notched his second goal since coming back from the aggravation of an abdominal surgery. Hayes got control just below the left circle and backhanded a low shot under Brossoit’s stick at 5:53.
“Hayes gave us a real good game tonight,’’ Yeo said. “I watched the Devils game and he was really working. We gave Max a chance there (on the Flyers’ second goal) and he took advantage of it. I thought he did a lot of the little things right tonight.’’
Every player in the NHL wants to keep the puck from their first goal. Willman was no exception. Linemate Zach MacEwen did the honors of retrieving the puck for a souvenir.
“It was really a cool feeling,’’ Willman said. “I’ve been waiting a long time, so it was awesome. I think the guys were buying in. Hart wss incredible tonight. He’s the big reason we got the two points.’’
The Golden Knights came back to score with 48.9 seconds left in the session. William Karlsson scored from in close to even the score at 1-1.
Couturier actually missed much of the second period after a skate flew up and cut him on the left wrist, a wound which required stitches. But that didn’t stop him from getting that crucial goal.
“I think we just refocused tonight,’’ Couturier said. “I think we had better support throughout all three zones, created a few chances off that. Special teams tonight were probably the difference. Hart made some big saves when we needed them. For the power play, I think it was just moving the puck quick and getting it to the net.’’
Added Hart: “We’re all out there to win. Sometimes that’s what it takes, to lay down in front of the puck, put your body in front and sacrifice your body for the better of the team. That’s what we were doing tonight, getting in the lanes, timely execution in our D-zone.’’
>Giroux gets record
Claude Giroux’s assist on Couturier’s goal gives him 334 career power-play points and moves him past Bob Clarke for the Flyers’ alltime lead in that department.
Ivan Provorov entered the game third in the NHL for blocked shots with 58. . .Defenseman Kevin Connauton made his Flyers debut. . .The Flyers return to action on Saturday night when they visit the Arizona Coyotes. . .One game after he saw action for the first time for the first time in two weeks in Wednesday night’s game against New Jersey, Derick Brassard (hip sorenes) was scratched and Scott Laughton was moved up to the first line…The Flyers’ 10-game winless streak was tied for third-longest in team history. The franchise record is 12.