Devils Fall in Season Finale to Flyers

This is it. The end of what became, for Devils fans, a miserable season. But, as most Devils fans can see, it is also the nearing the end of an era. We are in a good position to be better next year as the young core matures a little more and General Manager Tom Fitzgerald adds pieces as we get into the summer and nearer the Draft.

But for now, it was still a loss. The Devils dropped the 2020-21 season finale 4-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.

It was a season that saw 24 Devils go on the COVID protocol list: a league high according to Bryce Salvador. Injuries played their part too, but not as much as losing that manpower to the COIVD virus.

Even tonight, the Devils were without Ty Smith, Mackenzie Blackwood (who took a few bumps in the Saturday game at the Islanders) and PK Subban (who was one of those 24 players on the COVID list and ended up missing the final month of the season due to it).

It was generally the same lineup as the game over the weekend against the Isles. The only difference was Scott Wedgewood getting the start between the pipes. It was announced earlier this week that Wedgewood was the Devils’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy. He came in as a late signing hoping to act as a mentor to some of the young goalies in the organization and instead – due to the retirement of Cory Crawford – was thrust into a position as almost the de facto backup to Blackwood.

Tonight, he stopped 27-of-31 shots for an .871 save percentage. He turned aside all three Flyers shorthanded chances and four of their five power play shots. Philly went 1-for-4 on the man advantage. He stopped 20-of-23 at even strength.

Facing him was Brian Elliott who just played in his 500th NHL game. This was game 501 and, in getting the win, stopped 23-of-25 Devils’ shots for a .920 save percentage. He got the Devils’ only power play shot as New Jersey was 0-for-2 on the power play. He stopped 22-of-24 at even strength.

Pavel Zacha got the scoring kicked off, ending the year with 17 for the Devils as, at 3:29 into the game, he took a backhanded pass from Nico Hischier as a loose puck had bounced onto Hischier’s stick. Zacha was cutting backdoor and tipped the pass from Nico into the net to make it 1-0 Devils. Jesper Bratt had the secondary assist. That goal tied Zacha for the team lead in goals with Miles Wood.

The Devils doubled their lead at 5:21 of the first period when a Will Butcher shot was blocked by Nicolas Aube-Kubel. It came right to the stick of Janne Kuokkanen who shoveled it past Elliott to make it 2-0 Devils. Yegor Sharangovich had the secondary assist on the goal.

However, before the frame was out, the Flyers would get one to cut the lead in half that would be a portent of things to come.

At 13:44 Kevin Hayes sneaked the puck past the Devils’ defense on the rush. Joel Farabee had gotten behind and took the pass, going backhand/forehand to beat Wedgewood and make it 2-1 Devils. Wade Allison had the secondary assist.

From there, it was all Philly as the Flyers scored four unanswered to win the game.

In the second period, Sean Couturier scored 10:06 in when Travis Konecny passed to Claude Giroux, who made a really nifty redirection with his right skate to Couturier at the side of the net. Couturier laid it in. It was a really good soccer-style play with great awareness from Giroux.

In the third, the Flyers got a power play goal from James van Riemsdyk at 12:25. Giroux passed through the box to Couturier at the far half wall. He shot on net and van Riemsdyk tipped the shot by Wedgewood to make it 4-3 Flyers.

Farabee got their first and he got their last of the night when Hayes made a pass across to Allison. He shot and Wedgewood made a nice blocker save. Unfortunately, the rebound came to Farabee and he deposited it to get himself to 20 goals on the year and give the Flyers a 4-2 lead.

The Devils would pull Wedgwood, but that would be our final, 4-2.

Team stats saw the Flyers outshoot the Devils, 31-25. The Devils won 48-percent of the game’s faceoffs with Michael McLeod leading the centers with a 64-percent personal winning percentage. The Flyers outhit the Devils, 19-9. The Devils had more blocks at 20-14 and less turnovers at seven to the Flyers’ 13.

Individually, shots were led by Damon Severson with three, hits by Nate Bastian with four, blocks by Ryan Murray and Severson with four each and takeaways by Andreas Johnsson, Sharangovich, Zacha, Kuokkanen and Bratt with one each.

And that puts a cap on the 2020-21 New Jersey Devils season. We will have coverage all summer of things like the Expansion Draft (the Seattle Kraken officially entered the NHL about two weeks ago – making their final expansion fee payment) and the Draft as well as free agency.

Stay safe this summer!

Devils Earn Third Straight Over Flyers

For the second time this season, the Devils have earned at least a point in four straight and won three straight. It came at the expense of the Philadelphia Flyers as the Devils wrapped up their four-game miniseries against with them tonight. They won 4-1 at Wells Fargo Center.

Some roster news as PK Subban came off of the COVID Protocol list while Jonas Siegenthaler remains. Andreas Johnsson was a scratch as was Aaron Dell. Matt Tennyson remains out with some bumps and bruises suffered over the course of the season. Kevin Bahl played in his second straight NHL game due to Tennyson being out.

In goal, the Devils were right back to Mackenzie Blackwood as Scott Wedgewood backed him up. If not for a late goal by Joel Farabee very late in the game, Blackwood would have pitched a shutout. Instead, he got 31 of 32 Flyers shots for a .969 save percentage. He got all three of Philly’s power play shots and 28-of-29 at even strength.

Philly was back to Brian Elliott who stopped 17-of-21 for an .810 save percentage. He let in New Jersey’s only shorthanded shot and turned aside their lone power play shot. He stopped 16-of-19 at even strength.

Both teams ended the night 0-for-2 on the power play.

The Flyers were actually eliminated from playoff contention with Thursday’s loss to the Devils and a few other scenarios.

The Devils never trailed in this miniseries, technically never falling behind even in the first game at Philly that they lost in a shootout.

The Flyers were in their alternate black uniforms tonight.

Jesper Bratt got the scoring kicked off exactly five minutes into the game. Bahl won a puck battle behind the Devils’ net and got it to Pavel Zacha, who was off on the rush. Zacha passed cross-ice to Bratt, who snaps a shot past Elliott to make it 1-0 Devils. Bahl’s assist on the goal was his first National Hockey League point. He set up the goal with by winning the puck and taking control behind the Devils’ net. Congratulations to him.

The Flyers nearly tied things when, 10:01 into the first, Scott Laughton seemed to score when Yegor Sharangovich swept the puck into the Devils’ net while trying to clear it. Laughton was the last Flyer to touch the puck and would have gotten credit. The call on the ice was a good goal.

However, the Situation Room in Toronto reviewed the goal and found that the puck ended up sitting on the goal line and never actually fully crossed it. The call on the ice was reversed to no goal and the Devils dodged a bullet.

They dodged another one late in the first when Blackwood had to make about five consecutive saves as the Flyers scrambled in front of the Devils’ goalmouth. They did not score and the Devils took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

The Devils would double their lead in the second when Janne Kuokkanen scored. The Devils waited patiently to get their right breakout out of their zone. Sharangovich got it up ice to Jack Hughes and he curled around near the near faceoff circle. He then set up Kuokkanen at the far faceoff circle for a one-timer. He scored and it was 2-0 Devils. The goal came 52 seconds into the new frame.

A few hit posts in the second came on the Flyers’ first power play when Shayne Gostisbehere, making his return to the Philly lineup, hit the post. That was followed by Bratt making a nice move by Elliott, with a Flyer defender all over him, and hitting the inside of the far post. It remained 2-0 heading into the third.

The Devils got another one when Nico Hischier scored unassisted and shorthanded 5:14 into the third. It came when he stole the puck from Sean Couturier on the penalty kill near the scorer’s table. He then poked the puck around another Flyer defender and broke in on a 2-on-1 with Sharangovich. He used Sharangovich as a decoy and shot, beating Elliott to make it 3-0 Devils. It was Nico’s second career shorthanded goal.

Sharangovich would get one of his own at 14:59 when, off of a turnover, Hughes grabbed the puck in the far corner. He then found Sharangovich in the high slot and he scored. Sharangovich now has a three-game goal scoring streak.

Farabee ended Blackwood’s bid for a shutout at 18:42 when he flew up the left wing and sniped a shot upstairs by Blackwood to make it 4-1, our final. Gostisbehere and Nicolas Aube-Kubel had the assists on the goal.

Team-wise, the Flyers outshot the Devils, 32-21. The Devils won 48-percent of the game’s faceoffs as a team, with Hischier having the best percentage of the Devils’ centers (64-percent). The Flyers outhit the Devils by a wide margin, 30-18. The Devils had 19 blocks to the Flyers’ 12 and the Devils had double the amount of turnovers at ten to the Flyers’ five.

Damon Severson led in time on ice with 21:28 while Hughes led the forwards with 17:44. Hughes and HIschier led in power play time with 2:57.

Hughes and Hischier also led in shots on goal with three each. Nate Bastian led in hits with five, Connor Carrick led in blocks with four and Mikhail Maltsev led in takeaways with two.

Next up, the Devils finally get out of the Philly loop and return home for their final two home games of the year. This starts on Monday against the Boston Bruins. Puck drop for that game is 7 PM and we will, of course, have the recap for you right here.

Until then, stay safe everyone!