The Devils played their third game of the season in Philadelphia and it was a frustrating one for New Jersey. The Flyers came away with the 4-0 victory as goaltender Carter Hart earned his first career shutout.
To begin with, the big question coming into the night was whether or not Flyers fans would boo Wayne Simmonds upon his return to Wells Fargo Center in a Devils uniform. A tribute video was shown during the first TV timeout and the fans gave him an ovation, which he acknowledged. They then promptly booed him the rest of the night.
The Devils touted some big changes coming to the lineup and those resulted in some shifting of the lines and defensive pairings as well as two players making their season debut.
In were Connor Carrick on defense and Kevin Rooney up front. Out were Mirco Mueller, Pavel Zacha and Jesper Boqvist.
The game was an NBCSN game, the first of the “Wednesday Night Hockey” double-header, so Doc Emrick was doing the game. It was nice to hear Doc calling New Jersey Devils hockey again, but that feeling would soon wear off as the game went on and you realized that this was not the glory days at all.
The goalie matchup saw Cory Schneider (making his 300th appearance as a Devil) stop 30 of the 34 Flyer shots that he saw for an .882 save percentage. For Philly, Hart was equal to all 25 of shots the Devils peppered him with.
Following a scoreless first period where the Devils outshot the Flyers 10 to 6, someone finally got on the board when Ivan Provorov scored on the power play at 9:52 of the second. Nikita Gusev was sent off for slashing setting up the Flyers man advantage. Provorov fired from the point and the puck went past Cory, beating him cleanly as he was being screened by a couple of players. Suddenly, it was 1-0 Philadelphia and the Devils were in a hole again.
The Devils had two opportunities to change that late in the second. They had a 5-on-3 chance for 12 seconds and then another one very late in the period for a full two minutes, but could not convert on either one. The momentum on the second 5-on-3 was killed for New Jersey when Hart made a huge glove save on Taylor Hall in close early on in the power play.
The rest of the scoring came in the third period as Philly began to put things away. Kevin Hayes scored his first as a Flyer just 33 seconds into the third frame on the power play. Sami Vatanen had gone off for tripping and off the ensuing faceoff in the Devils’ end, Hayes grabbed the puck out of a scrum and fired it in close on Cory, beating him to make it 2-0.
The Flyers ended the night 2-for-4 on the power play with eight shots. They also had two shorthanded shots. The Devils were 0-for-5 on the power play (including those two 5-on-3’s) with four shots. They also had two shorthanded shots.
The third goal came at 57 seconds of the second (24 seconds after the second goal) off the stick of Sean Couturier. Cory gave up a big rebound right in front and Couturier, all alone on the doorstep, grabbed it and buried it.
The fourth and final Philly goal of the evening came on an ugly play. Kyle Palmieri was trying to skate the puck out of the Devils’ zone in front of the Schneider and lost an edge. Travis Konecny was right there to pick up the loose puck and beat Cory to give us our final of 4-0. The goal was unassisted at 11:46 of the third period.
Mercifully, that ended it.
The Devils won only 41-percent of the game’s faceoffs, but did outhit the Flyers 24-19. They also had more blocked shots at 16-10 and doubled up the Flyers on giveaways at 14 to Philly’s seven.
Individually, PK Subban led in ice time with 26:43 – including 6:38 on the power play and 2:16 shorthanded. Hall led all forwards with 20:55 (including 5:59 power play time). Hall also tied for the lead in shots on goal with five along with Palmieri. Nico Hischier led in hits with three and Andy Greene led in blocks with four. Hischier, John Hayden and Simmonds each had a takeaway to lead there.
Next up, the Devils will return home tomorrow to take on the 3-0-0 Edmonton Oilers. Hopefully, we’ve bottomed out, but with what James Neal did on Long Island the other day and the always dangerous Connor McDavid hanging around, I just don’t know.