PHILADELPHIA — Great road trip. And it’s the success that makes it a bit sweeter for the Golden Knights to get back home.
“Everyone’s looking forward to getting home,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “But once the puck drops, the guys are in a good place.”
Try first place in the Western Conference.
Ivan Barbashev scored two goals and Pavel Dorofeyev, Teddy Blueger and Jonathan Marchessault also scored for the Knights in Tuesday night’s 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers that completed a five-game road trip. The Knights lost the opener of the trip, 2-1 to Florida on March 7. But since they’ve reeled off four straight wins.
Nick Seeler and Morgan Frost scored two late goals against Jonathan Quick that cut the lead to 4-3. Travis Sanheim got on the board in the second period and Felix Sandstrom made 28 saves for the Flyers.
Barbashev scored his 14th goal on an empty-netter that sealed the win.
The Golden Knights boosted their road record to 21-7-5 as they play for first place in the West.
“A trip like this, especially when you get to the end, you’ve got to find a way to win,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said.
They at least found a way to hold on.
The Flyers opened a seven-game homestand and are well out of the playoff race.
“I didn’t mind a lot of the game,” Flyers coach John Tortorella said. “The effort is there. We’ve just got to keep on going.”
They played their first game at Wells Fargo Center since they fired general manager Chuck Fletcher on Friday and promoted long-time fan favorite Danny Briere to the interim role. The move that fans had clamored for did little to spark ticket sales — there were scores of empty seats inside the arena. Briere was in Florida for the NHL general managers meetings.
The losses are getting easier to accept for Flyers fans now that Briere has acknowledged the franchise needs a multiyear process to become contenders again. Each defeat this season only pumps their odds for a better pick in the draft lottery.
“We’re done. We’re not making the playoffs,” Tortorella said. “But our guys continue to play hard.”
The Flyers rallied in the third when another loss seemed inevitable. Instead, they showed some rare grit when Seeler and Frost scored almost two minutes apart in a tough — but too late — rally that got a rise out of the stragglers.
“They’re a team that’s trying to forge an identity,” Cassidy said. “They’re going through some, obviously, internal stuff. I don’t know how it affects the players.”
Quick stopped 27 shots, improving to 4-0 since he was acquired from Columbus. He tied John Vanbiesbrouck for second on the career wins list among American goalies with 374.