LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Philadelphia Flyers know the importance of opening the season with a road victory.
Wayne Simmonds scored two goals to lead Philadelphia to a 5-2 season-opening road win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.
It was the Flyers’ third straight season-opening victory in a Pacific Division city. Philadelphia has earned at least a point in each of its last four season openers (3-0-1).
Oskar Lindblom, Robert Hagg and Scott Laughton also scored for the Flyers, one of seven NHL teams to win on the road during Thursday’s 10-game slate.
“I think it’s tough sometimes when you open at your own rink,” Elliott said. “You have all the spectacles and the show, sometimes it takes away from your focus a little bit and the road team just has to come in and play (its) game.”
And while the defending Western Conference champion Golden Knights’ scoring chances outweighed Philadelphia’s, 24-14, Flyers netminder Brian Elliott was outstanding in stopping 23 of the 25 shots he faced in front of an announced crowd of 18,555.
Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury allowed five goals and stopped 11 of 16 shots before being replaced by Malcolm Subban with 9:49 left in the second period. Subban stopped all nine of the shots he saw.
Vegas coach Gerard Gallant dispatched the notion about his team being distracted by the pre-game festivities, which included the raising of the Pacific Division and Western Conference championship banners.
“I was excited and our players were excited to start at home tonight, it just didn’t go our way,” Gallant said. “I thought we played a real good 10 minutes to open the game up. We had a 1-0 lead and then (Shea) Theodore hit the crossbar, would have made it 2-0. After that they pretty well took over the game.”
Jonathan Marchessault and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare were the only ones to score for Vegas, as the Flyers dominated the neutral zone.
“We kind of just wanted to counter-attack their speed, that’s the way they play,” said Simmonds, who led the Flyers with four shots and seven hits. “They have their D jumping the rush a lot of times, and we figured if we could bust the zone we could keep their D back. It worked to our advantage and we kept pucks in and we went in and we got them.”
Marchessault’s shot from the left dot gave the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead early in the first period, but Lindblom tied the game after making a nice move around Fleury’s left pad and a backhand into an empty net.
Simmonds pounced on a loose puck sitting on the goal line, and poked it into the net to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead late in the first period. His second goal made it 3-1 early in the second period when he slipped a shot under a sprawled out Fleury.
Simmonds has five goals in his last two season-openers.
Later in the second period, it was Mikhail Vorobyev, in his NHL debut, starting a rush with a stretch pass to James van Riemsdyk, who then fed Hagg, who beat Fleury with a wrist shot to the glove side. Just 1:06 later, Laughton deflected Radko Gudas’ shot from the point to make it 5-1.
Bellemare netted a short-handed goal to cut Philadelphia’s lead to 5-2 with 11:32 left in the game.
This marked the first of two games in nine days between these clubs. Vegas will visit the Flyers on October 13 to wrap up a five-game road trip that begins Saturday night.
NOTES: Only in Las Vegas will you find crooner Wayne Newton and rapper Lil Jon simultaneously dropping the ceremonial first puck together pregame. … With his two assists, Jakub Voracek reached 400 points for his career. … Claude Giroux’s assist on Simmonds’ second goal moved him past Bill Barber for third on the Flyers’ all-time list with 464.
Philadelphia: Visits Colorado on Saturday.
Vegas: Visits Minnesota on Saturday.
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