The Devils traveled down the Jersey Turnpike to renew their rivalry with the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, a win would give them 100 regular season victories in the all-time series against Philly. When all was said and done, the Devils were feeling mighty good in the City of Brotherly Love largely due to Kyle Palmieri.
The Devils got things started quickly when Lee Stempniak rang one off the post less than one minute into the game. Flyers goalie Steve Mason helped his own cause early when he robbed Palmieri on the power play (the Flyers were called for the first of two too many men on the ice penalties on the game to put New Jersey up a man) with a nice glove save. Right after that penalty was killed off by Philly, Stephen Gionta hit the post on a goal mouth scramble and things were quickly beginning to look like the game on Tuesday against Columbus.
The Devils continued their aggressive attempts on the penalty kill when Stempniak had a short-handed try (after Andy Greene took a hooking call mid-first period).
The mirror to the Columbus game was continued 15:04 into the second when Luke Schenn connected for the Flyers unassisted. It was best described by Ken Daneyko as a kind of “seeing-eye” shot by Schenn that found it’s mark and the Flyers were up 1-0.
From there on out, however, the Devils took over the scoresheet and refused to let up. Philly’s Chris VandeVelde took a high-sticking call against Palmieri when his stick got caught up in Palmieri’s visor. Travis Zajac would continue his hot streak when he would score on the power play at 18:12 (assists to Palmieri and Jacob Josefson) to knot the game at one.
In the third, Palmieri would give the Devils a 2-1 lead when he snapped a shot past Mason unassisted at 1:28. The Devils had just killed off a Jon Merrill hooking minor.
Less than a minute later, the Flyers would again take a too many men on the ice bench minor (both of these penalties were served by Brayden Schenn, who has been in the dog house for Philly of late) and New Jersey would capitalize. Travis Zajac again found the back of the net on the power play, scoring at 2:32 from Palmieri and Eric Gelinas (who was again the extra defenseman in the Devils’ lineup).
One of the keys on the night for the Devils was blocked shots and turning blocked shots into scoring opportunities. With about 5:30 left in the game, Stempniak blocked a Flyers point shot that allowed him to skate off on a breakaway, though his shot went wide of Mason’s cage. Then with about 3:30 left, Jordin Tootoo blocked a shot that almost allowed him to go off to the races, but was broken up by Philly. Palmieri also had a blocked shot for a partial breakaway attempt.
With about 1:30 left in the game, Flyers coach Dave Hakstol called a timeout and the Flyers pulled Mason after winning the ensuing faceoff. The Flyers pressed late, and with about fifteen or twenty seconds left, Jakub Voracek passed the puck through Cory Schneider’s goal crease to Wayne Simmonds, who appeared to miss the wide open net. On the replay, it could be seen that Andy Greene had actually tipped the pass away, collected it and fired it down the length of the rink for the empty net goal at 19:53. It was Greene’s first of the season, unassisted.
Schneider again had a great game, making 27 saves on the night. But offensively, the player of the game for the Devils was Palmieri (who was named the game’s second star by attending media). He, along with linemate Zajac, has been a great one-two punch for the Devils for the last few games, and tonight was no different. The Montvale native has quickly become one of the Devils’ on-ice leaders and someone the Devils can look to to get the team going offensively. Palmieri has also jumpstarted Zajac, who has been idling for the last few years, has been getting help from Palmieri and has been able to finish for him.
Next up, the Devils are off on a rough stretch. Bluntly put, they needed this game. Starting the afternoon of Halloween, the Devils have a home-and-home with the Islanders (including their first regular season trip to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on November 3) and then, the Stanley Cup champs come to town when the Blackhawks visit on November 6. The Devils are in for a real test in the coming weeks, but it is nice to have this victory under their belts.