The Devils have been improving very much of late and tonight’s game proved just that.
They held on to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 after a late Philly surge. The Flyers very much continue on a downward trend and continue their slide out of playoff contention.
The game was broadcast on NBCSN, so not much of a functional pregame show.
Will Butcher, Aaron Dell and Nikita Gusev were the scratches once again.
Mackenzie Blackwood got the start for the Devils, making 30 saves on 33 shots for a .909 save percentage. He stopped the Flyers’ lone shorthanded shot, eight of their nine power play shots and was 21-for-23 at even strength.
Carter Hart got the nod for the Flyers, turning aside 28 of the Devils’ 32 shots for an .875 save percentage. He stopped the Devils’ two shorthanded shots, six of their seven power play shots and was 20-for-23 at even strength,
There was a moment of silence prior to the game in honor of the victims of the violence in Atlanta, Georgia and Boulder, Colorado.
The Devils struck first when Michael McLeod was sprung on a partial 2-on-1 with Ty Smith by Andreas Johnsson. Smith gave to McLeod who shot and beat Hart to make it 1-0 Devils 9:52 into the game.
But the Flyers got that one right back at 12:43 on the power play when Joel Farabee scored. Ivan Provorov gave to Jakub Voracek shot shot from up high. There was a scramble in front and Farabee put the puck by Blackwood to knot the game at one.
The Devils would retake the lead before the end of the first when Kyle Palmieri scored with 5.6 seconds to go in the first frame. The puck got knocked down by a Philly player and Janne Kuokkanen grabbed the loose puck. He moved it to Jesper Bratt, who fed Palmieri in front and he scored to give the Devils a 2-1 lead going into the second period. That goal also came on the power play.
The Devils were 1-for-4 on the power play while Philly was 1-for-3 with the man advantage.
In the second period, Yegor Sharangovich struck again 9:32 into the new frame. Travis Zajac made a quick centering pass out of the corner that was precise. Sharangovich buried it and that made it 3-1 Devils. Kuokkanen had the secondary assist.
That line scored again with 23.4 seconds to go in the second. Sharangovich made a tic-tac-toe pass to Ty Smith. Smith found Zajac in front of the net and he scored by changing the angle of his stick blade to redirect it in. It was now 4-1 Devils and they seemed to be coasting.
But the Flyers would begin a near comeback in the third, both goals coming at the hands of Sean Couturier.
It began at the 11:37 mark, Couturier notched his first when he dished to Travis Konecny coming into the Devils’ zone. Konecny gave back to Couturier and he scored camped out at the back post behind Blackwood. It was now 4-2 Devils. James van Riemsdyk had the secondary assist.
Couturier struck again with two seconds to go in regulation. With Hart pulled for the extra attacker, Voracek centered from behind the net to Couturier, who scored. Van Riemsdyk again had the secondary.
But it was too little too late for the Flyers. The Devils hung on for a 4-3 win.
The Flyers outshot the Devils 33-32 and won 57-percent of the game’s faceoffs. Philly also outhit the Devils 19-13 and had more blocked shots with 16 to New Jersey’s 14, The Devils did come away with less turnovers at ten to the Flyers’ 13.
McLeod had the best faceoff winning percentage at 75-percent. PK Subban led in ice time with 24:55 while Pavel Zacha led the forwards with 18:33. Bratt led in power play ice time with 4:15.
Sharangovich and Nick Merkley led in shots with four each. Hits were led by Subban with three. Blocks were led by Ryan Murray with three. Takeaways were led by McLeod with two.
Next up, the Devils travel to DC to take on the much-better-playing Capitals. That game is a 7 PM and we will, of course, have coverage for you aver the game here.
Until then, stay safe everyone!