Devils Drop Second Straight in First Road Game of Season

The Devils made their first real road trip of the season, albeit just down the Turnpike to Philadelphia. Although their first game was in Sweden, they were technically designated the “home” team and, thus, got the final change and everything that goes to the home team. This was a real road game and they would end up on the losing end, falling 5-3 to the Flyers.

As we covered in a post yesterday, Travis Zajac and Ben Lovejoy were suffering from lower body injuries and would not make the trip. They are both day-to-day. Unfortunately, Zajac’s faceoff prowess would be sorely missed against the second-best faceoff team in the NHL in the Flyers. Philly won 73-percent of the faceoffs in the game. Kevin Rooney was up from Binghamton to take Zajac’s place in the lineup. Steven Santini would slot in for Lovejoy on defense, although the Devils would end up losing him too.

Santini took a puck to the face early in the game and left having only played two minutes and 33 seconds. He suffered what the team would reveal after the game as a broken jaw. The Devils would finish the game with five defensemen which is how Sami Vatanen ended up leading the team with a whopping 29:01 of ice time. Him logging almost half the game (including 1:14 on the power play and 7:42 on the kill) was a nasty result of Santini getting hurt and a Herculean effort on Vatanen’s part. The rest of the D logged between 23:00 (Andy Greene) to 20:31 (Will Butcher).

Santini being out also robbed the Devils of a physical presence on the blue line, something that would always be used against Philly. But the Flyers have troubles in other areas too. They came into the game having given up 4.43 goals per game, the second most in the NHL. Their goaltending has been suspect as usual, but was on point today.

Brian Elliott went for Philadelphia and made 19 saves on 21 shots against. For the Devils, a return of Cory Schneider is coming with him getting a rehab start in Binghamton tonight. But for now, it is Keith Kinkaid’s net and he played like it today. He stopped 16 of 19 shots against (the Flyers had two empty net goals and finished the game with 21 shots on goal as well) and was simply brilliant at times, continuing his hot streak. This was only Kinkaid’s second loss to the Flyers in his career (his last loss was January 20, 2018 – also in Philly – where he was pulled).

One area that the Devils were not good in was team discipline. Philadelphia gives up a lot of shorthanded goals, but you do not want to tempt them. They took five penalties, although the penalty kill was good, giving up only one goal on just three shots, but they were just in the penalty box too many times. The Devils themselves were 2-for-3 on the power play with four shots on goal.

New Jersey would begin the scoring on the power play in the first period. Michael Raffl was called for hooking at 2:45 and, at 4:07, Damon Severson found the back of the net. It came when Marcus Johansson curled around a few times on the near half wall. He slid the puck through the slot to Severson, who was camped out by the far faceoff dot. He went upstairs to beat Elliott shortside to make it 1-0 Devils. Miles Wood had the secondary assist on that goal.

But from there, the Flyers just pinned the Devils into their own defensive zone. A Devils penalty at 9:17 (Pavel Zacha for hooking) would lead to Philly winning an offensive zone faceoff and Travis Konecny scoring at 10:41 from Travis Sanheim and Jordan Weal. That tied things up at one, which is where we were at the start of the second period.

And it would remain that way until late in the second. At the 18:56 mark, Nolan Patrick scored his first of the season from Jakub Voracek to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead. It was a nice pass from Voracek that stretched Kinkaid across his crease and he just could not get to Patrick’s finish in time.

The third period would see the Devils get back into things and then have it quickly fall apart on them. Brian Boyle scored just 2:25 into the third period while the Devils were on the power play – Weal had gone off for high-sticking at 1:51. On the ensuing power play, Boyle took a pass from Butcher at the point and skated up the near boards. With tons of time and space, he cut towards the net with Kyle Palmieri providing a screen. He shot five hole and beat Elliott to tie the game at two apiece. Taylor Hall had the other assist.

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol would use his team’s challenge to have the officials look for goaltender interference on Palmieri in front. The replay showed that while he did inadvertently bump Elliott’s stick, the goalie had time to reset himself and the call on the ice stood as a good goal.

But from there, things would go south for the Devils, although it would take almost the entire period. At 16:50, Voracek scored on a 2-on-1 from Ivan Provorov and Sanheim. That made it 3-2 Philly with just about three minutes to go in the game.

Kinkaid would be pulled for the extra attacker with about 1:19 to go and Wayne Simmonds would capitalize on the empty net with a goal from Claude Giroux and Provorov. That made it 4-2.

The Devils would pull Kinkaid a second time following the neutral zone faceoff and Palmieri would get a golden chance to get them within one, narrowly missing on a wraparound attempt that was stopped by Elliott. From there, Scott Laughton would score in to the empty net from Voracek (who finished the game with three points) and Jori Lehtera. That would make it 5-2 and be our final.

The Devils, despite losing Santini, would end up out hitting the Flyers 28-18 and blocking more shots as a team, 27-11. Santini would somehow manage to register one of those hits.

Individually, Hall and Boyle led in shots on goal with five each while Vatanen and Blake Coleman led the hits with five each. Andy Greene had an amazing seven blocked shots as the defense was really stepping things up playing down a man. Johansson led takeaways with two. In terms of ice time for the forwards, Hall spent 19:53 on the ice (including 3:01 on the PP, seven seconds on the PK).

The Devils will have some time to work things out and heal a little bit, as they now have four days off until they play again. That will be on Thursday, October 25 at Prudential Center versus the always-dangerous Nashville Predators. We will see you then for coverage right here.

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