Devils Lose Kinkaid to Injury, Fall to Flyers

The Devils were set to play their fifth straight game against a Metropolitan divisional foe today in Philadelphia with the thought that Keith Kinkaid would make his third straight start. Instead they lost Kinkaid to injury, lost the game 3-1 and lost ground in the division to a resurgent Flyers team.

Kinkaid was penciled in because Cory Schneider had a return of the flu bug that kept him out of action last week. Plus, on Thursday night, he got hit in the back of the head with a stick and needed stitches. All of that led to the Devils calling up Ken Appleby on emergency conditions from AHL Binghamton and Kinkaid getting the start. Kinkaid would play just 12:15 and let in all three Flyer goals before leaving with what the team is calling a lower body injury.

Kinkaid saw seven shots and made just four saves before stretching across his crease to try to nab the third goal. It was there where he seemed to tweak his knee or a groin muscle or something along those lines. Appleby, who has been brought up to backup in the past two seasons, but had yet to see NHL action, came in in relief and played 46:04 stopping all 24 shots he saw. He now has a 1.000 NHL save percentage. That was one silver lining of the afternoon. Because they could only had Appleby and Kinkaid dressed, the Devils utilized an emergency backup goalie who was on their bench by the end of the game. No one on MSG could get a name before the broadcast ended, but he wore number 65 on his jersey.

For the Flyers, Michal Neuvirth was between the pipes, making 28 saves on 29 shots faced. With this victory, he notched his 100th NHL win.

There was one other silver lining for the Devils: special teams. The power play and the penalty kill failed them in their loss to the Flyers last week. Tonight, they kept Philadelphia 0-for-4 on the man advantage limiting them to a total of six shots. Meanwhile, the Devils were 1-for-5 on the power play with four shots on goal.

Roster-wise, the Devils were largely the same as the last two wins, with Blake Coleman, Jimmy Hayes and Steven Santini the healthy scratches and Cory a scratch due to illness.

Philly got on the board early and often. Travis Konecny scored five hole on Kinkaid just 3:29 into the game from Shayne Gostisbehere and Scott Laughton. That made it 1-0 Flyers just like that.

At 8:30 of the first period, Valtteri Filppula took a lucky bounce that landed on his stick and fired it home to make it 2-0. Michael Raffl and Radko Gudas had the assists. That would go on to be the game winner.

Ivan Provorov finished the Philadelphia scoring at 12:15 on the goal where Kinkaid got injured. Konecny and Claude Giroux had the assists on that goal which made it 3-0 Flyers.

As would be expected in a Flyers-Devils game, there were some scrums and a fight. Raffl clipped Appleby behind his net and was not called for interference at the 16:28 mark of the first period. John Moore took exception and decided to take matters into his own hands and fought Raffl, with the fight ending in a draw. Appleby would finish up his first (partial) period of NHL action by making a nice glove save just as time expired.

New Jersey would lose Brian Gibbons for the afternoon early in the second period when he blocked a shot and injured his hand. Gibbons is a selfless player who blocks a lot of shots, hopefully this is not long term for him.

The Devils’ lone goal came in the second period on the power play. At 6:41, Laughton was called for high-sticking Travis Zajac. With New Jersey on the man advantage, the goal materialized at 8:12 when the Devils converted extended pressure in the Philly zone. Will Butcher took the puck at the point and quarterbacked it to Jesper Bratt at the top of the far faceoff circle. He fired and beat Neuvirth to make it 3-1. Taylor Hall had the secondary assist on that goal and that was it for the scoring.

The Flyers settled into a good, sound defensive game, limited the Devils’ chances. New Jersey would pull Appleby with about two minutes remaining in the game to try and tie things up, but time just ran out on the Devils. Although Bratt did hit the post with less than two seconds left on the clock.

On the stat sheet, Sami Vatanen led in ice time with 22:12, Brian Boyle had the most shots at four, Boyle, Stefan Noesen and Ben Lovejoy each led in hits with two apiece and Lovejoy had four blocks to lead in that category. The Devils won only 41-percent of the faceoffs against the best faceoff team in the NHL. In addition to their two game winning streak ending, the Devils’ five game streak of outshooting their opponents came to an end today since they were outshot 31-29 by the Flyers.

Next up, the Devils return home to take on the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. They are done with their spurt of games against the Metro Division for now, but will need to start beating teams in their own division if they intend to do anything come playoff time (be it going far in, or even making, the playoffs). For now, they will have to contend with an Atlantic Division team on Monday night.

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