Mackenzie Blackwood had a personal game for the ages tonight. He blanked the Philadelphia Flyers, one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference, making 46 saves. This was the most saves made by a Devils goalie in a shutout against the Flyers since Martin Brodeur made 36 against them in 2008 and the second most saves in a shutout by a Devil against any team in franchise history period. To boot, he also had an assist on a second period Damon Severson goal.
The Devils changed some things in their lineup from the shootout loss to Montreal on Tuesday. PK Subban was back from illness and inserted back into the lineup in place of Colton White. Subban was back on the top defensive pairing with Andy Greene. Nico Hischier and Sami Vatanen remained out with injuries suffered on Saturday against Dallas.
Facing Blackwood tonight for Philly was Brian Elliott, who had been on a personal hot streak of late. He has been playing for Carter Hart, who is out currently with an injury. He made 13 saves on 17 Devils shots for a .765 save percentage. He was relieved of his duties in the third period following the fourth Devils goal by Alex Lyon. He stopped just one of the two shots he saw for a .500 save percentage.
The game-winner for the Devils came just 13 seconds into the game when the Devils got the puck into the Philadelphia zone and Travis Zajac grabbed it in the corner. He centered to Blake Coleman. Coleman collected the puck with his skates and got it to his stick. He got a shot off and beat Elliott to make it 1-0. Subban had the secondary assist on the goal that would go down as the game winning goal.
With that goal, Coleman became the first Devils player this season to reach the 20 goal plateau.
Despite the fact that the Devils only mustered a total of 19 shots this game, there was plenty of action. In the first, Connor Carrick hit the post and Blackwood needed to stop Kevin Hayes on a partial breakaway right after.
In the second, the Devils doubled their lead 1:38 in when Severson scored on a power play opportunity. Hayes had gone off for tripping Jesper Bratt at 1:19 setting this up. Blackwood got the puck to Severson, who sped up the right wing and fired a shot by Elliott to make it 2-0. With this assist, his first NHL point, Blackwood became the first Devils goalie since Brodeur in 2000 to gain a point and a shutout win in the same game.
The Devils finished the game 1-for-3 on the power play with four shots. They also had a shorthanded goal on four shots down a man. The Flyers were 0-for-4 on the man advantage with six shots. They also had five shorthanded shots, just to illustrate how difficult a shutout it was that Blackwood got.
Miles Wood took a big hit in the corner in the second period that required stitches to close a cut on his face. His helmet came down on the hit and the visor cut his face. He would return for the third and this would be a very good thing.
Because the Devils exploded for three goals in the final frame and it was Wood who contributed two of them.
The period began with Pavel Zacha scoring 1:10 in. This was a shorthanded goal while Subban was off for a trip just 46 seconds into the new period. It was the Devils who capitalized when Zacha intercepted an errant Flyers pass just inside the Devils’ blue line. Zacha got the puck to Kevin Rooney, who was off on a 2-on-1 with Zacha. Rooney gave it back to Zacha and he ripped one five-hole on Elliott to make it 3-0.
The Flyers not being able to make crisp passes would be a theme throughout this third period. At the 4:23 mark, the puck bounced off of Shayne Gostisbehere’s stick and came to Wood. He grabbed it and was off to the races. He beat Elliott to make it 4-0. The goal came unassisted and Wood was not done.
After this goal, Elliott was chased in favor of Lyon. At the 11:16 mark, Wood victimized him too.
Following a turnover at the Devils’ blue line, Mirco Mueller fed a speeding-up-the-left-wing Wood and he made a nice move around the Philly defender and beat Lyon for his second of the game to make it 5-0.
Fittingly, Blackwood was named the game’s first star and Zacha the second while Wood was the third.
The Flyers dominated almost everything in this game, with the Devils winning just 32-percent of the game’s faceoffs and being outhit 18-16. Rooney led all Devils centers in faceoff percentage, winning 43-percent of his draws. The Devils had more blocked shots with 16 to the Flyers’ 11 and each team had nine turnovers.
However, though the Flyers were dominant on paper, it was the Devils who had the goaltending and took advantages of the Flyers’ miscues.
Time on ice was led by Severson with 23:24 (including 2:41 on the power play and 5:10 killing off penalties). Zacha led the forwards with 19:36 (including 1:31 on the power play and 4:27 shorthanded).
Blake Coleman led in shots on goal with four. Of note was that Wood finished with two shots on goal in the game and scored on both of them. John Hayden led in hits with three while Greene and Subban each had three blocks to lead that category. Travis Zajac, Coleman, Kyle Palmieri, Zacha, Bratt, Mueller and Severson all tied for most takeaways with one apiece.
So after this exhilarating win over a big rival, we now return home as the Devils take on the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. We will see you then as the Devils try to make it points in six straight games.