Devils Win Thriller Over Philly to End Losing Streak

First off, I apologize for this post getting up late. Some family business to take care of first and foremost.

But I did record the game and got to see the Devils snap their 10-game winless streak by defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 6-4 at Prudential Center on April 27 to claim their fifth victory at home and first win anywhere since April 6.

Following the collapse in Philly on Sunday, how would they respond? And with four of their final eight games being against the Flyers, would they set a tone for the homestretch?

Some lineup notes to get to first, as Nolan Foote and Ty Smith returned to the lineup. Smith was a game time decision but played. Mikhail Maltsev was also back from a trip to the COVID Protocol list. Still out on that list are Jonas Siegenthaler and PK Subban. Andreas Johnsson and Nick Merkley were the other scratches along with Aaron Dell. Scott Wedgewood was the backup tonight.

Binghamton coach Mark Dennehy was the guest on the MSG+ pregame show with Erika Wachter and Bryce Salvador. He gave some insight into Foote, as well as Alexander Holtz, Kevin Bahl and some other Devils prospects. If you can, I highly urge seeking this out and watching it.

In goal, Mackenzie Blackwood got the nod for the Devils. The Devils have earned at least a point in every game Blackwood has started against the Flyers and tonight was no exception.

Blackwood made 26 save on 30 Philly shots for an .867 save percentage. He stopped Philly’s only power play shot (the Flyers were 0-for-2 on the power play – a double minor for high sticking on Michael McLeod being the only penalty against the Devils). He was 25-for-29 at even strength.

As for the Flyers, they went back to Brian Elliott who stopped 21 of 26 New Jersey shots for an .808 save percentage. He stopped the Devils’ lone shorthanded shot and was 1-for-3 on power play shots (the Devils were 2-for-2 on the man advantage) and was 19-for-22 at even strength.

The Devils were in their Reverse Retro green uniforms for the final time this season.

The McLeod penalty was called 5:11 into the game as he high-sticked Sean Couturier on a faceoff. A double minor was called due to McLeod drawing blood. The penalty was reviewed cut the call on the ice was confirmed: it was four minutes for McLeod. The Devils would kill this to set a tone for the night, although Claude Giroux did hit the post early on in the power play.

Nico Hischier got the Devils on the board on the power play 18:45 into the game. Pavel Zacha played catch with Smith and got the puck back. He passed to Jack Hughes at the far side of the Flyers’ net. His rebound came out to the captain at the other side of the net and Hischier jammed it in to make it 1-0 Devils.

Following a scrap between McLeod and Travis Sanheim after McLeod laid a hit on Couturier, Sanheim also took a roughing call, putting the Devils on the power play. It was now that Zacha doubled the lead at 2:20. Smith went down low to Hughes and he went passed to Zacha, who was camped out in the high slot. He snapped it by Elliott, who squeezed the puck but let it trickle by him. It was now 2-0 Devils.

At 5:14, Miles Wood made it 3-0 unassisted when Damon Severson played catch with Ryan Murray. They got it to Wood, whose initial shot was blocked but he capitalized on his second chance and scored with Nate Bastian acting as a screen in front.

But just as Giroux set a Flyers record for fastest time for one player to score two goals on Sunday, the Flyers responded tonight.

Just 15 seconds after Wood’s goal, Oskar Lindblom scored at 5:29. Nolan Patrick took a shot in front of the Devils’ net, the rebound came to Jackson Cates and he took a swipe at it. Finally Lindblom poked it in to make it 3-1.

A weird play at at the 9:29 mark of the second when Hischier hit the crossbar on a rush and Bastian crashed the net and put the puck in as he dislodged the net itself. The referee signaled a goal on the ice. The play was reviewed to see if the initial shot by Hischier went in. Replay showed that he had, indeed, hit the crossbar, and the Bastian goal was not called, so neither goal counted and it was still 3-1.

From there, the Devils were about to have flashbacks.

In the third, Philippe Myers scored unassisted at 2:24 in. The Flyers dug the puck out of the corner and it got tipped to Myers. He was in the middle of the ice and grabbed it, wristing it top shelf by Blackwood to make it 3-2.

Philly tied things when none other than Claude Giroux scored at 3:34 into the third. Jakub Voracek passed out of the corner to Giroux all alone in front. He walked in, made a move on Blackwood, opening him up and scored to tie the game at three. Robert Hagg had the secondary assist.

But it was an unlikely hero that would get the Devils back into things. Connor Carrick scored his first goal since March 6, 2020 on an individual effort when he chipped the puck off the boards to himself to break into the Philly zone. He then walked in and beat Elliott to give the Devils back the lead, 4-3. Smith had the primary assist and McLeod the secondary. The goal came at the 8:04 mark.

But, the Flyers would respond. Sanheim scored at 12:25 to tie things again.

The goal came on a loose puck getting back to Couturier and he throwing towards net from the point and Sanheim tipping it by Blackwood. That made things 4-4.

But 11 seconds later, Yegor Sharangovich gave the Devils back the lead again. This time, Janne Kuokkanen got the puck behind the Flyers’ net. There was some miscommunication between Elliott and the Philly defenseman. Sharangovich stole the puck and came back out in front, depositing it into the net and making it 5-4. His would go down as the game winner at 17:36.

Maltsev would add an empty nettter at 19:58 with McLeod and Carrick getting the assists. That made it 6-4, our final and followed a mad scramble in front of the Devils’ net that saw Matt Tennyson make a heroic play.

Couturier had a wide-open net to shoot at with Blackwood down and chose to slide it along the ice and in. Tennyson dove across the crease and blocked the shot with the shaft of his stick, blocking a sure goal for Couturier and what would have tied the game again.

Instead, the Devils were in the win column for the first time since earlier this month.

Philly oushot the Devils, 30-27. The Devils won 44-percent of the game’s faceoffs with Hischier leading the centers with a personal 59-percent winning clip. The Devils outhit the Flyers, 21-15, had more blocked shots at 18 to the Flyers’ eight and had more turnovers at 13 to the Flyers’ eight.

Time on ice was led by Murray with 22:45 while Hischier led the forwards with 20:31.

Shots were led by Jesper Bratt and Murray with four each. Hits were led by Bastian with five. Blocks were led by Tennyson with three. Will Butcher led in takeaways with three.

So, next up, the Devils do it again. Trying to make it two in a row at Prudential Center, the Flyers will stay in town for a Thursday night tilt between the teams at 7 PM.

Until then, stay safe everyone!

NHL Puts Devils Season on Pause

Chris Wescott of the Inside the Devils Blog today said that the Devils’ season will be put on pause with all games postponed through at least Saturday, February 6.

The reason? You guessed it, COVID.

The Devils added four more players to the COVID Protocol today.

Mackenzie Blackwood, Connor Carrick, Aaron Dell, Andreas Johnsson, Janne Kuokkanen, Michael McLeod, Kyle Palmieri, Sami Vatanen, Pavel Zacha and Travis Zajac now reside on that list and the NHL has announced that the Devils will not play until February 6 at the earliest.

Wescott said that “as a precaution, the Devils facilities are closed to all players on the active roster, effective immediately, and it will remain that way until further notice.” He also said that he NHL “is reviewing and revising the team’s regular-season schedule.”

This is reality in 2021. It is not ideal, but we (and the team) will get through it. It should be noted too, that not all of the players on the list are necessarily there due to concerns that they have the virus.

Vatanen is in quarantine after coming over from Finland, Carrick’s wife just gave birth and Dell came in from Winnipeg, so they are just clearing things up. That does not mean that they do not have the virus, it is just running through necessary procedures that keep them out of action even just in case.

The Devils’ official channels should keep us updated and we will pass things along as they get reported.