The Devils renewed pleasantries with the Philadelphia Flyers tonight, losing 5-3 on Prudential Center ice.
First off, happy birthday to “the Great One” Wayne Gretzky. He turns 60 today and the Devils even paid tribute to him with a video package (minus his time as a Ranger) on the big board.
In Devils roster news, Nolan Foote was assigned to AHL Binghamton on Monday.
Mackenzie Blackwood remains on the COVID-19 protocol list, so Scott Wedgewood made his third consecutive start. He stopped 26 of the 30 Flyers shots he saw, including making 9-of-11 on the power play and 17-of-19 at even strength. He finished with an .867 save percentage.
Just speculating, but you have to thing we might see Eric Comrie on Thursday against these same Flyers if not to just give Wedgewood a little bit of rest. Wedgewood’s shutout streak of 89:07 was ended with the first goal of this game.
The Flyers threw out backup Brian Elliott following Carter Hart’s “Ron Hextall-esque” meltdown in Philly’s loss at Boston this past weekend. Elliott stopped 23 of 26 shots against, stopped all four Devils’ power play shots and was 19-for-22 at even strength. He sported a .885 save percentage.
Statistically, Flyers were more dominant in the faceoff circle, winning 52-percent of the game’s faceoffs. Philly was 2-for-5 on the power play while the Devils were 0 for their lone power play. The Flyers played a much more disciplined game than New Jersey, as penalties continue to be a problem for the Devils. Each team had ten hits, the Flyers out blocked the Devils 11-4 and had 50-percent less giveaways at six to the Devils’ 12.
The Devils lineup remained the same as last game starting with the same lines and defensive combos. Connor Carrick and Will Butcher were the healthy scratches again.
First off, a stick tap to the Flyers’ Claude Giroux, who surpassed Bobby Clarke tonight in games played as the Flyers’ captain. He becomes the Philly captain with the most games played with the “C.”
The game started with a good chance for the Devils when Pavel Zacha was sprung fort a partial breakaway early. He shot 5-hole on Elliott but was turned aside.
Andreas Johnssson took a holding call at the 13:30 mark of the first. On the ensuing power play, Yegor Sharangovich rang one off the post on a shorthanded breakaway for the Devils.
But then a similar pattern settled in. The Flyers took the 1-0 lead on that power play when Ivan Provorov shot from the point and James van Riemsdyk tipped it by Wedgewood as he was all alone in front of the Devils net. The goal came at 15:03.
That Flyer lead would carry over to the second period and then… more of the same. Kyle Palmieri was called for goalie interference and Philly was back on the power play 20 seconds into the frame.
On this power play, the same play. Provorov shot from the point, van Riemsdyk tipped it by Wedgewood – all alone in front of the net – and the Flyers had a 2-0 lead.
This was only the second time this season the Devils were down by multiple goals. But hope was on the way.
It began at 11:59 of the second when Michael McLeod finally scored his first NHL goal. It came on a delayed penalty as Nate Bastian got the puck to Miles Wood, who went behind the Philly net, centered it to McLeod in front of the net and he tipped it over the goal line for his first NHL goal. The Devils had now cut the lead in half.
Things would be taken care of at the 16:43 mark when Ty Smith tipped the puck up to Janne Kuokkanen. Kuokkanen dropped the puck to Johnsson who fired on net. Travis Zajac was camped out in front and tipped the shot by Elliott to tie the game at two.
Smith, although playing a big part in the goal, did not receive an assist on the scoresheet. He would not score a point tonight and that would end his point scoring streak at five games.
The Devils nearly took the lead in the third period when a Johnsson shot pinged off of the crossbar and out. The officials called it a no-goal on the ice that was the correct call. Damon Severson would hit a post a few minutes later. This would cost the Devils in the long run.
At the 7:03 mark of the third, Nolan Patrick, recently recovered from a migraine issue, scored when Travis Konecny worked the puck to Giroux. He shot and Wedgewood fell down making the save. The puck trickled out to the far faceoff circle where Patrick was waiting to put the puck in the empty net. It was now 3-2 Flyers.
And Philly was not done there. The Devils went down two again when Joel Farabee scored at the 12:36 mark. Smith tried to make a backhanded pass to the middle of the Devils’ zone. The puck banked off of Scott Laughton’s skate to Farabee. Wedgewood was down again and Farabee scored, making it 4-2 Flyers.
The Devils pulled Wedgewood withabout 2:50 left in regulation, down two and, at the 18:24 mark, Provorov scored into the empty net unassisted. This followed a few Philadelphia attempts to pot one in the vacated cage. It was now 5-2.
But things were not over. Zacha, who opened the game with a chance but was stopped, scored at 18:52 when he put a Nick Merkley rebound past Elliott from the faceoff circle. Dmitry Kulkov had the secondary assist. That made the score 5-3, our final.
Individually, PK Subban led all Devils skaters with 22:50 of ice time. Jack Hughes led the forwards with 20:14. Shots were led by Zacha, Hughes and Severson who each had three. Hits saw Merkley, Matt Tennyson and Smith all lead with two each. Ryan Murray had two blocked shots to lead in that category. McLeod led in takeaways with three.
Faceoff percentage saw Zacha lead with a 66-percent winning clip.
The Devils were renew things again with the Flyers on Thursday at the Prudential Center again in their next matchup. Same Devil time, same Devil channel (possibly). See you all then!