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!

Devils Lose in Shootout to Flyers

They were close.

Although this 4-3 shootout loss technically snaps their nine-game regulation losing streak and they will not join the 1983-84 Devils in the club record books in the futility category, they still could not hold a lead with the game falling apart late in the third period for them.

This is the first of four straight against the Flyers. The next two will be in Newark.

Rosters-wise, not much changed, Mikhail Maltsev remains out with injury. Ty Smith was thought to be back tonight, but he is not progressing the way the staff wanted and was held out again. In his place was Colton White – playing in his third straight pro hockey game in three nights (Friday for Binghamton, Saturday in his season debut for the New Jersey Devils in Pittsburgh and tonight for New Jersey in Philadelphia). PK Subban and Jonas Siegenthaler remain on the COVID protocol list and Aaron Dell was the healthy scratch.

Janne Kuokkanen was also back in while Marian Studenic slotted out.

On the second half of a back-to-back, the Devils went back to Mackenzie Blackwood (who was 3-0-1 all-time coming into this game against the Flyers). Blackwood made 33 saves on 36 Philly shots for a .917 save percentage. He stopped an incredible four shorthanded shots by the Flyers and was 29-for-32 at even strength.

Facing him was Brian Elliott who made 29 saves on 32 Devils shots total for a .906 save percentage. He stopped one shorthanded attempt by the Devils and three power play shots. He was 25-for-28 at even strength.

The Flyers were 0-for-1 on the power play while the Devils were 0-for-3 (including a chance in the overtime period that they did not capitalize on.

Philly were in their black alternates with the comically large numbers (great for a stadium, not so much for an arena) tonight.

The Devils had not had a lead in eight games but that was about to change as they came out flying (no pun intended). Pavel Zacha was stopped on an early breakaway.

And then, just 4:56 in, Michael McLeod scored. It came when Miles Wood, against the boards near the benches, chipped the puck to McLeod, springing him on a 2-on-1 with Nate Bastian. Bastian took a pass and then returned it to McLeod, who finished to make it 1-0 Devils.

The Flyers, however, would have an answer before the period was out. At 11:45, Sean Couturier scored when Claude Giroux won a faceoff in the Devils zone back to Ivan Provorov who went D-to-D with Philippe Myers. Myers took a shot from the point and Couturier redirected it by Blackwood to tie things headed into the first intermission.

The second period saw Wood give the Devils back the lead when he scored his 16th at 7:07 of the second. Bastian, with two Flyers defenders on him, fought them off and slid a pass to Wood as he was falling down. Wood then finished at the near side of the net.

Wood is the Devils’ best hope for a 20-goal scorer this year. The Devils have had a 20-goal scorer every year since the lockout shortened 2012-13 season when David Clarkson led the team with 15 goals.

In the second, the lead was preserved when Connor Carrick sacrificed himself on a mad scramble in front of the Devils’ net. He blocked a shot with Blackwood down in the snow angel and helped keep the puck out of the net.

So the Devils took a 2-1 lead into the third and Pavel Zacha would add to that 9:16 into the frame. Nico Hischier got the puck up to Jesper Bratt, who bobbled the puck, settled it and made a no look pass to Zacha in the slot. Zacha finished and the Devils had an insurance goal.

But, as we shall see, it was not enough.

First, a scary moment as late in the period, Andreas Johnsson was cross-checked into the boards by Scott Laughton. He was a about a foot off the boards and fell awkwardly into them, favoring his left leg when he was helped up.

Philly would pull Elliott with about 2:33 left in regulation and it would pay off for them. It began at the 18:34 mark when Giroux took a backhanded pass from James van Riemsdyk that went through the legs and skates of a few Devils on the way to Giroux. Giroux got it at the near side of the net and tapped it in to make it 3-2 Devils. Jakub Voracek had the secondary assist.

Twenty-two seconds later, Giroux struck again when Voracek passed to van Riemsdyk in the slot. The Devils’ defense went to van Riemsdyk and he passed to Giroux, all alone at the far side of the net and, again, he tapped it home to tie the game at three.

That goal came at 18:56, so as the final minute wound down, we were off to overtime.

OT saw the Devils with a power play opportunity that the Devils could not convert on and we were off to a shootout.

The Flyers went first and in the first round, Giroux continued his hot streak by scoring five-hole on Blackwood. Jack Hughes finished out round one for the Devils and Elliott stopped him.

In round two, Couturier also beat Blackwood five-hole and Yegor Sharangovich scored.

Blackwood stopped Travis Konecny in round three while Jesper Bratt deked and converted to tie things up.

In round four, Scott Laughton and Jesper Boqvist were both stopped with Blackwood making a nice right pad save on Laughton.

Round five saw Blackwood get a piece of a Provorov shot with his glove while Zacha was stopped by Elliott.

Round six decided things when Kevin Hayes deked and scored on his backhand around Blackwood leaving the game up to Hischier. Nico was stopped by Elliott and the Flyers had the comeback shootout victory.

Team stats saw the Devils outshot 36-32 by Philly. The Devils won 47-percent of the game’s faceoffs with Hischier leading all Devils’ centers with a 71-percent winning clip. The Flyers had 18 hits to the Devils’ 15. The Devils led in blocked shots with 19 to the Flyers’ ten. The Flyers had 12 turnovers to the Devils five.

Time on ice saw Damon Severson led with 26;18 while Hughes led the forwards with 21:37. Hughes also led in power play time with 4:36.

Shots on goal were led by Yegor Sharangovich with five. Hits were led by Bastian and McLeod with four each. Blocks were led by Carrick with four (including that big one in the second period). Takeaways were led by Zacha, Wood and Ryan Murray with one each.

Next up, the Devils return home to take on these same Philadelphia Flyers and hopefully to try to get in the win column again. Puck drop for that one is 7 PM on Tuesday as Colton White finally gets some much-deserved time off.

Until then, stay safe everyone!