The Flyers seem intent on demonstrating the relative insignificance of shots on goal.
They were outshot by a 17-12 margin in the second period Monday by a Vegas team that was coming off its best performance of the season.
But Flyers goalie Brian Elliott was at his best, and the Flyers used a 4-0 second-period advantage to cruise to a 6-2 win over the Golden Knights and end a four-game losing streak.
“Moose [Elliott] was lights out,” right winger Joel Farabee said after his NHL debut.
With a loud, animated crowd watching at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers got second-period goals from Kevin Hayes, Michael Raffl, Matt Niskanen, and Oskar Lindblom to take a 5-0 lead en route to evening their record at 3-3-1.
Raffl had two goals and an assist, and Lindblom, and Travis Konecny had two points apiece to spark the Flyers. Elliott stopped 33 of 35 shots.
“We gave up a lot in that period, but Moose was outstanding,” Raffl said. “It looks way more [lopsided] than it actually was out there.”
Vegas, coming off Marc-Andre Fleury’s 3-0 win in Pittsburgh, slipped to 6-4.
The Golden Knights used backup goalie Oscar Dansk, and, yes, there is a huge dropoff between him and Fleury, a likely Hall of Famer someday.
That, however, shouldn’t diminish the Flyers’ performance. They swarmed the net, created numerous chances with their active forecheck, and had their highest-scoring output of the young season.
In their previous two games, the Flyers outshot their opponents (Edmonton, Dallas) by a combined 91-38 but were outscored 10-4.
“I know we didn’t have the result we wanted in those two games,” captain Claude Giroux said, “but if you really look into the game ... you understand we played great games. We played good enough to win the games, but sometimes you don’t get the bounces. Sometimes it‘ll happen like that. Sometime we’ll play a bad game and you’ll win. Overall, I think our game is good.”
“We got luck on our side tonight,” Raffl said, “and it’s about time that happened.”
Second-period goals by Hayes and Raffl 44 seconds apart increased the Flyers’ lead to 3-0.
Hayes, from the side of the net, put a shot between Dansk’s legs for his second goal of the season. With 13:04 remaining in the second, fourth-line left winger Raffl made it 3-0 as he tipped in a shot taken by Ivan Provorov from near the wall above the left circle.
Elliott, meanwhile, was razor-sharp. He made a glove save on Jonathan Marchessault from the high slot (his second big stop on the center) and denied Cody Glass from the doorstep while the Vegas were on a second-period power play. Elliott stopped all 25 shots he faced in the first 40 minutes before Marchessault and Reilly Smith scored in the third period.
Later in the second, Niskanen (power play) and Lindblom scored 55 seconds apart to make it 5-0. Niskanen scored after Konecny alertly lifted Jon Merrill’s stick with his stick, allowing Sean Couturier’s pass to get through to the defenseman.
“In my mind, that could have been our least-effective period in the last eight, but we found a way to win that period, 4-0,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “Sometimes it works out that way."
Vigneault didn’t like the team’s puck management in the second period, “but when they [Golden Knights] made a mistake in the second period, we really made them pay, which we haven’t been able to do for quite some time.”
The Flyers took a 1-0 lead as Konecny, who is tied with Lindblom for the team lead with four goals, took a slick pass from Lindblom and beat Dansk from the right circle with 15:45 to go in the opening period. It gave the second power-play unit one more goal (four) than the top unit (three). The second unit later added its fifth goal, from Niskanen.
Before the game, Farabee took a solo lap around the ice – a tradition for a player making his NHL debut – before warmups started.
“It was definitely awesome,” the 19-year-old Farabee said. “Just to be out here playing in my first NHL game, it’s something I’ve always dreamed about.”