The Devils have had a tough go of it, being winless in their last six, including being shut out in Philadelphia last Saturday. And it looked like things would be continuing that way, with a win being hard to come by when the Flyers came to Prudential Center for the New Jersey half of a home-and-home between the teams. It was a goalie duel, but the Devils came away with the 1-0 win in overtime.
Some news coming out of the last game between these teams and going into this game as firstly, the Devils’ Dalton Prout was suspended for two games for his interference on Radko Gudas. He said basically that while he respected the NHL’s decision to suspend him, he did not agree with it. He cited the hit that Dale Weise laid on Kyle Palmieri as being more violent than what he did. But he will be missing for two games and was unavailable tonight as a consequence.
The two teams combined for 82 total penalty minutes on Saturday, the second time this season they reached that very number. Today’s game was a little bit more tame, with only 18 total penalty minutes. The Flyers went 0-for-4 on the power play while the Devils were 0-for-5.
Secondly, after the scary moment on Saturday when Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth collapsed in his crease, there is some good news. He was released from the hospital on Sunday, tests came back negative and he is home resting comfortably. So that is some good news following a difficult time for him and the Flyers on Saturday.
For the Devils, Michael Cammalleri returned to the lineup on Saturday, so this would be his first home game in almost six weeks. Jacob Josefson and Devante Smith-Pelly remain out with injury while Miles Wood joins them, having tweaked his shoulder in Saturday’s game at Philly. Michael Kapla was the healthy scratch for the Devils. Missing for the Flyers were Gudas, Roman Lyubimov, Brandon Manning, Matt Read and Jordan Weal.
Some callups from the AHL in the game were forwards Luke Gazdic and Ben Thomson for New Jersey and forward Mike Vecchione and defenseman Samuel Morin for Philadelphia. For Thomson, Vecchione and Morin, this was their NHL debut. The Flyers hope Morin to become a Chris Pronger-type player. Vecchione was also one of three former Union College players in the game, the other two being Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid. Thomson wore number 43 for the Devils.
And in the nets, Kinkaid stopped all 35 shots he faced in getting the shutout. For Philly, Steve Mason (who came in 0-9-0 all-time versus the Devils) made 26 saves on 27 shots for a .963 save percentage.
The evening began on a high note as the newly-retired Patrik Elias was on hand to drop the puck for the ceremonial faceoff between Devils captain Andy Greene and Flyers captain Claude Giroux.
Both teams have been eliminated from playoff contention – the Flyers lost on Sunday to the Rangers, so they are out. So this was a game of pride for both teams. The Flyers also dominated in the faceoff circle on Saturday, winning 51 of 71 faceoffs in that game, so the Devils wanted to shore that up. And they did, as the Devils took 45 percent of the draws.
The teams traded chances for most of the second period after a relatively tame first period. Philly would have their best chance midway through the third period when Ben Lovejoy knocked the net off its moorings as Wayne Simmonds was shooting over the net. Kinkaid had made a nice pokecheck right before, timing it perfectly.
The Devils had a great chance to win things with about 17 seconds left when Mason stopped Cammalleri in close. The game was still tied at zero and headed to overtime.
Philly actually won the opening faceoff in the OT period, and controlled the puck for the first few seconds. But, 59 seconds into the OT, Palmieri hit Taylor Hall with a stretch pass and Hall broke into the Flyers zone with John Moore on a two-on-one. Hall saucered a nice pass to Moore, who sniped it behind the left-handed Mason’s stick side and the Devils won the game.
For a scoreless game, this one was good. It was a goalie duel and both netminders were on point. Kinkaid got only his second win of the season at Prudential Center and it was well-deserved. The Devils finish the season 4-1 against the Philly. The only other teams they took at least three games from were Buffalo and Carolina.
So next up for the Devils, the Pittsburgh Penguins come to town on Thursday. It will be a hard one for the Devils. The Pens are, of course, headed back to the Stanley Cup playoffs and will be in high gear for that. If the Devils can hang in there and play the way they did tonight, it just might give them a chance to get a win over the Penguins – it would be their first this season after going 0-4-0 against them thusfar.
In Devils prospect news, the Mississauga Steelheads have their second round opponent set in the OHL’s Eastern Conference playoffs. They will play the Oshawa Generals after the Generals defeated the Sudbury Wolves four games to two in their first round series. The series will start on April 7 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.