Flyers Blank Devils 3-0

The Devils fell to the Philadelphia Flyers in the first of a home-and-home for the Devils (although the Flyers have a game in between at the Rangers tomorrow) 3-0 in a game that featured one of the scariest moments I have ever witnessed as a hockey fan.

Firstly, some good news as it was announced that Patrik Elias week will be held at the Prudential Center next week. Patty will be dropping the ceremonial puck at the game on Tuesday against the Flyers. He will then practice in an open practice at the Prudential Center at 12 noon on Friday. This is open to the public and anyone can attend. Saturday he will have his “final lap” as he will participate in warmups prior to the game against the Islanders. He will also be playing in the WFAN/Boomer and Carton Mikey Strong charity game at Prudential Center on April 21 and will have his number raised to the rafters at a point to be determined next season.

Philly was trying to get their first victory over the Devils this season. A loss would eliminate them from playoff contention, but a win not only keeps them from being eliminated, but also keeps their hopes alive. They basically have to run the table the rest of the season to make the postseason, and Toronto did win tonight over Detroit, keeping them from moving closer. Miles Wood, Adam Henrique and Kyle Palmieri would be the keys for the Devils, as each had three goals coming into tonight against the Flyers this season.

Jacob Josefson and Devante Smith-Pelly are still injured for New Jersey, while Jon Merrill and Steve Santini were the healthy scratches. Nick Cousins, Roman Lyubimov, Matt Read, Nick Schultz and newly-signed college player Mike Vecchione were all out for Philly.

Damon Severson was playing in his 200th NHL contest tonight, so congratulations to him on that milestone.

But the real story of the game was the goaltending of Philadelphia. Steve Mason, who is a lifetime 0-9-0 against the Devils, was sick at game time and could not play. Anthony Stolarz, the New Jersey native was called up from Lehigh Valley of the AHL and almost did not make it in time. He missed the pregame warmup but was on the bench for game time.

The scary moment I eluded to earlier involved the starting goalie for the Flyers. Michal Neuvirth had made six saves on six shots and had a 1-0 lead with a routine faceoff in the neutral zone. Suddenly, Neuvirth just simply collapsed in his crease. It was a terrifying moment as the entire Wells Fargo Center went silent. Trainers from both teams came out to see if he was okay, the ice crew actually alerted the paramedics, who came out and tended to Neuvirth as the players milled around hoping he was alright.

Eventually, as he was being stretchered out, he did move his legs and head and seemed alert. The word from the Flyers was that he was taken to the hospital for observation and, again, was alert.

With that, Stolarz came in cold, but could not get the win in the game unless he gave up a goal. He ended up playing extremely well for Philly but did not give one up, meaning that Neuvirth got the win. Stolarz stopped all 26 shots he saw.

At the other end of the rink, Cory Schneider started for New Jersey and made 38 saves on 41 shots faced for a .927 save percentage.

As mentioned, when Neuvirth went down, the Flyers already had a 1-0 lead. That came at 7:28 of the first period on the power play from Brayden Schenn (from Claude Giroux and Shayne Gostisbehere) when he played a carom of a shot by Giroux off of the end boards and in. The Devils were killing off a Travis Zajac hooking penalty and could not finish the job. Philly went 2-for-5 with the man advantage on the night while the Devils were 0-for-4.

Colin McDonald had the second Flyers goal, scored at 11:28 of the first from Chris VandeVelde and Radko Gudas. Cory went for the poke check on McDonald, who was able to put the puck by him to make it 2-0 Flyers.

A scrap between Dalton Prout and Wayne Simmonds broke out when Gudas blindsided John Quenneville and was taken down himself. After all of that, Prout was given two minutes for interference, five for fighting and a game misconduct. The Flyers were again on the power play, but that would be nearly negated almost a minute later when Dale Weise checked Palmieri into the stanchion near the Devils bench. He was assessed a boarding penalty and a game misconduct. Travis Zajac was given a roughing penalty to keep Philly on the power play. Just another day at the office for Devils-Flyers.

In the second period, at 10:06, Jordan Weal would extend the Flyers lead when he scored from Jakub Voracek and Michael Del Zotto (also on the power play – thanks to the Zajac penalty) to make it 3-0.

The Devils nearly seemed to get on the board at the 11:53 mark of the third period when an Andy Greene shot went in off of Giroux’s stick and behind Stolarz. Flyers coach Dave Hakstol asked for a review, saying Quenneville was offside on the play. The replay showed he clearly was and the linesmen conferred with Toronto. The call on the ice was reversed, no goal. The Devils were still putting up a goose egg. Just prior to this, Miles Wood and Wayne Simmonds were given game misconducts after roughing each other up.

And that was it. Late in the game, the Flyers tried to give their emergency goaltender a nice moment when he was put in in relief of Stolarz. He was kicked back to the bench by the referees because nothing was wrong with Stolarz, it was not an emergency situation, in other words.

Next up for the Devils, it’s part two as they finish the home-and-home and the season series with the Flyers at The Rock on Tuesday. Will the bad blood spill over into that game? We will find out on Tuesday.

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