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Flyers Squander Third Period Lead, Fall 3-2 to Vegas on Late Goal

(Zak Krill/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Philadelphia Flyers held a 2-1 lead with less than 8 minutes remaining against the defending Stanley Cup champions in the Vegas Golden Knights, but their depth, skill, and experience came to the forefront as they not only tied it late but took the lead with just 31.5 seconds left on the clock to remain undefeated on the season.

Ivan Barbashev opened the scoring 7 minutes into the game before the Flyers responded with goals from Noah Cates and Cam Atkinson to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead and handed the Golden Knights their first time trailing at the end of a period. After a dominating start to the second period where the Flyers outshot the Knights 11-1, they were unable to beat Logan Thompson, who made some timely saves to keep his club in the game and turn the tides in the third period on top of Paul Cotter’s highlight reel goal to tie the game and Shea Theodore’s late game-winner.

Carter Hart played a fantastic game but couldn’t keep the Vegas train at bay with their hard push in the third period. The defense sat back but also Vegas’ offense was too high-powered at times, so much so that the Flyers couldn’t match their intensity. Overall, it was a strong effort but the Flyers have nothing to show for it as they fall to 3-2-1 while Vegas improves to 7-0-0.

In the final game of ESPN’s Frozen Frenzy, the Flyers visited the Golden Knights looking to improve on their 3-1-1 record to start the season. Rolling with an unchanged lineup, the Flyers once again went with a top line that featured Sean Couturier, Cam Atkinson, and Owen Tippett, then Scott Laughton, Tyson Foerster, and Travis Konecny, Noah Cates had Bobby Brink and Joel Farabee as his wingers, and Nicolas Deslauriers, Ryan Poehling, and Garnet Hathaway rounded things out.

Rasmus Ristolainen reportedly suffered a setback so his timetable is still fuzzy and with Marc Staal out for the next 4-6 weeks, the Flyers defense will more or less remain the same for the foreseeable future. Cam York and Travis Sanheim were at the top, Sean Walker with Egor Zamula, and Emil Andrae paired up with Nick Seeler. Carter Hart returned in goal after a one-game hiatus where he made way for Samuel Ersson’s first start of the season and Felix Sandström’s first game dressed as the backup.

As for the defending Stanley Cup champions, they came into this game with an unbeaten record of 6-0-0 – the best start by a defending champion in NHL history – averaging 4 goals per game, a power play that was clicking at a 27.3% rate, a penalty kill that was rolling with an 88.9% efficiency rate, and only allowed 1.83 goals per game. Their well-oiled machine was paced by Chandler Stephenson’s 7 points, Jack Eichel, William Karlsson, Mark Stone, and Shea Theodore each collecting 6 points, and a goaltending duo that had a .935 SV%. Logan Thompson got the nod tonight, looking to improve on his 2-0-0 record, .935 SV%, and 2.00 GAA, while captain Alex Pietrangelo remained out of the lineup for his 5th consecutive game.


Ivan Barbashev opened the scoring at the 6:57 mark of the first period after jumping on top of a loose puck right in front of Carter Hart. Jonathan Marchessault batted down Cam Atkinson’s dump attempt and quickly sent it out front to Jack Eichel who had his one-timer stopped.

With the Flyers caught flat-footed, Barbashev was able to get his stick on the rebound and slot it through Hart’s five-hole with the Flyers caught flat-footed after the turnover.

The Noah Cates, Joel Farabee, and Bobby Brink line connected again as the young centreman finished off his own play to get the Flyers on the board and tied the game up at 1.

Travis Sanheim set things up from the defensive zone with a lengthy outlet pass that Joel Farabee tipped towards Noah Cates into the offensive zone. Cates rushing down the wing and tried feathering a pass to Farabee who was streaking towards the goal, however the puck was batted down by Farabee. The puck was then retrieved by Cates and deposited into the back of the net for his 1st of the season.

After an offensive-zone shift by the Golden Knights that looked threatening, John Tortorella sent out the Flyers top-line and by the end of their shift, Philadelphia took a 2-1 lead with a carom-goal by Cam Atkinson for his 4th of the season.

The Flyers’ aggressive forecheck forced a turnover in the neutral zone and as the puck went back into the Flyers’ end, Cam York niftily back-handed a pass off the boards to Owen Tippett who then sent a long outlet pass to Atkinson off the wing. He came into the zone with speed and fired a back-hander towards the goaltender who couldn’t handle the shot as it trickled behind him for the go-ahead goal with just 2:41 left in the first period.

28 seconds later, Kaedan Korczak was called for a tripping minor to send the struggling Flyers man advantage on the ice with the chance of taking a late 2-goal lead. The Golden Knights penalty kill didn’t give Philadelphia any room to make even the simplest of plays as they killed it off with relative ease. At the expiration of the power play, the Flyers were 1-19 on the season.

Nevertheless, the Flyers took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission after a strong bounce back effort after Vegas had scored the opening goal. Philadelphia held an 8-6 shot advantage, 12-10 face-off edge, and 7-2 lead in hits.


To start the second period, Cam York was guilty of a holding minor – even though it was Cam Atkinson who had taken the penalty – sending a very dangerous unit onto the ice. The Golden Knights controlled the puck for the first 70 seconds but weren’t able to muster up a really dangerous chance as either Jack Eichel flubbed on 2 one-time opportunities along the wall or the Flyers blocked most of the shooting lanes.

After recording a shot on goal during their early power play opportunity courtesy of Marchessault, the Flyers restricted the Golden Knights to 0 shots in almost 12 minutes while they themselves fired 11 towards Logan Thompson. Owen Tippett had 3 shots on goal and another one that missed the net, Sean Walker added a few of his own, and the Flyers looked electrifying with Thompson having all the answers.

The Knights’ first chance since Marchessault’s shot came 12 minutes later, courtesy of Eichel, who was stopped on his original toe-drag and then absolutely robbed on the rebound by the glove of Carter Hart.

However, that seemed to be the catalyst to re-awaken the Golden Knights as they fired 4 shots on goal and another 5 shots that were either blocked or missed the net in the next 3 minutes – all of the dangerous variety.

With the Knights buzzing and only 33.7 seconds left in the period, Tyson Foerster was called for a slashing minor. The Flyers handled their business heading into the intermission holding onto a 2-1 lead as well on the shot counter (20-15), in the faceoff dot (23-21), and with the hits (20-15).


As we entered the third period, the ESPN crew unanimously believed that the Flyers could hold this lead and become the first team to defeat the Golden Knights this season.

4:11 into the final frame, Travis Sanheim was called for a holding minor, sending the Knights right back to the power play after keeping them in check in their first two attempts. The power play only lasted 26 seconds because Mark Stone was called for a tripping minor after he stuck out his leg after Noah Cates forced a turnover at the blue-line.

As expected the Vegas pushback was alive and strong in the third period with the home-team ahead on the shot clock by a 7-1 advantage in the first 8 minutes. Vegas was coming and the Flyers couldn’t hold the fort any longer as Paul Cotter tied this game up with an incredible deke on Egor Zamula and then finished the shot far-side on Hart for his 2nd of the season with 7:50 remaining in regulation.

Korczak made a diving play outside of his own end to William Karlsson in the neutral zone to jumpstart an offensive rush. Karlsson then dished a back-handed feed to Cotter who came into the zone with speed, faked a shot before turning Zamula inside-out, and then finished the play with a perfectly placed shot past Hart.

Tentative moments in the final 5 minutes ensued as both teams created dangerous opportunities, but the Vegas train was chugging with the Flyers playing back a little, especially with the Jack Eichel line on the ice.

Unfortunately after a very hard fought game, the Golden Knights took the lead with just 31.5 seconds left on the clock courtesy of Shea Theodore – who was set up by Eichel. The former 2nd overall pick was all over the offensive zone before dropping it to Theodore who decided to fire one towards the mass of bodies in front of Hart. It was his 2nd goal of the season.

After the Flyers held an 11-1 shot advantage to start the second period, the Golden Knights outshot the Flyers 21 to 8 in the final 28 minutes, including 13-7 in the third period when it mattered most.

Carter Hart kept the Flyers in for as long as he could before Paul Cotter’s highlight reel goal and Shea Theodore’s late winner found the back of the net to keep the Knights undefeated to start the season.

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