Miles Wood’s Two Goals Power Devils Past Flyers

In a complete reversal of fortune, the Devils special teams went from woeful against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday to markedly improved on Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers. In the Montreal game, they gave up all three Habs’ goals on the power play and failed to score with their own man advantage.

Against Philly, they killed off six Flyers power plays while converting on two of their seven. New Jersey seemed discombobulated on special teams in their last game. Possibly due to the bizarre five minute major call on Karl Stollery. On that note, Devils coach John Hynes did receive a call from the NHL’s director of officiating saying that the call should not have been made. It was a nice gesture by the NHL, and will go a long way in getting that call correct in the future – seeing as the league understands that it is a problem how they handled it. But it cannot erase the extra goal scored last night on that extended Montreal power play.

Now, the Devils did not play well enough last night to win and their too many trips to the penalty box was a part of that. But the five minute major certainly played a part in the outcome of the game and the NHL knew it.

But moving on to tonight, the Devils traveled to Broad Street to take on the Flyers. Philadelphia was coming off of their league mandated five game bye week (this was instituted due to the condensed schedule brought on by the World Cup of Hockey back in September). The team could not talk, communicate or practice together for a work week, getting back together only Saturday. The question coming into the game was how well the layoff would help or hinder the Flyers. It certainly could not hurt, as, coming into tonight, the Flyers had only won three of 14 since their 12 game winning streak ended in December. They have fallen out of a playoff spot and, should they miss, would be the first team in NHL history to put together a winning streak of more than ten games and miss the postseason.

Some roster moves of note included the return of Vernon Fiddler from the IR. He would help the penalty kill a lot and was joined back in the lineup by Jon Merrill – who was sick for the last game – and Luke Gazdic, who was back in to give the team some grit in Philly. Scratches for the Devils included Beau Bennett (who was injured blocking a shot in the last game), Seth Helgeson and Devante Smith-Pelly. Scratched for Philadelphia were Brandon Manning, Nick Schultz and Dale Weise.

The goaltending matchup saw the Devils go back to Keith Kinkaid due to Cory Schneider still being sick. Schneider was well enough to serve as the backup, but not good to start. He made 35 saves on 36 shots faced. The Flyers started Michal Neuvirth who made 22 saves on 25 Devils shots until going to Steve Mason, gave up a goal on four shots faced.

In a bit of a throwback, the Devils wore their dark uniforms on the road as the Flyers were in their special 50th gold trimmed anniversary uniforms (which are white) for the game.

The Devils got on the board first at the 7:11 mark of the first when Kyle Quincey fired a shot from the point with the rebound coming out to Pavel Zacha. Zacha’s initial shot came back out to Jacob Josefson who made a nice pass between his legs back to Zacha. Zacha then went to his backhand and beat Neuvirth to make it 1-0 Devils.

Travis Konecny tied things up at 10:49, just as an interference penalty to Miles Wood was expiring – the penalty was called at 8:49, from Nick Cousins and Ivan Provorov. That would make it 1-1 going into the break.

The good news for the Devils was that they had spent a lot of time in the penalty box in the first period but did not surrender a power play goal.  Philly would end up 0-for-6 on the power play. The Devils went 2-for-7 as things evened out penalty-wise later in the game.

Miles Wood and Wayne Simmonds had a good scrap late in the first period, which actually led to a Devils power play when Simmonds was called for the extra roughing penalty. The Devils did not score on that power play opportunity.

From there, Miles Wood and the Devils power play began to take over. It began at 15:51 of the second period as the Devils retook the lead. At 15:34, Radko Gudas took a clipping penalty at the same time Wayne Simmonds took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, leading to the Devils being up two men. On that power play, the Devils did a good job working the puck around the perimeter as PA Parenteau and Michael Cammalleri touched the puck before getting it to Kyle Palmieri who fired from the top of the left faceoff circle. The puck went in and the Devils had the lead back, 2-1.

Late in the second, at the 19:12 mark, Wood got his first of the game when he took a touch pass from Cammalleri, who had taken an outlet pass from Steven Santini. Wood took the puck and went speeding up the ice. He beat Neuvirth stick side on the breakaway and, just like that, the Devils were up 3-1.

Wood would add a second goal early in the third period at the 4:26 mark. It was set up at 3:31 when Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was called for tripping Fiddler. On that power play, Karl Stollery worked the puck from the point to Taylor Hall at the half wall. He passed to Wood at the side of the net and it was a layup for the Devils’ rookie. The Devils led 4-1 and that is how it would end.

Next up, the Devils, who move a game over NHL .500 at 20-19-9 return home on Tuesday to take on the Los Angeles Kings. That is another test for the Devils, who lost their other meeting back in November in Los Angeles. We will find out if the Devils can keep up the winning ways against a tough Western Conference foe.

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