Tonight, was the 4th and final meeting between the Philadelphia Flyers (28-19-10) and the New Jersey Devils (28-20-8). Going into tonight’s game the Flyers had the series advantage 2-1 as they tried to win the season series. The Flyers were also given the news that their starting goaltender, Brian Elliott, will miss 5-6 weeks after undergoing core muscle surgery. The Devils, who placed their starting goaltender, Corey Schneider, on IR has been without him since January 23rd. This situation made tonight’s game a battle of the backups with the Flyers starting Michael Neuvrith and the Devils starting Keith Kinkaid.
The Flyers looked to take advantage of a struggling Kinkaid who was 0-3 in his last three starts. The beginning of the game looked promising as the Flyers peppered Kinkaid with shots and saw within the first two minutes number 11, Travis Konecny, score his 14th goal of the season. The play was assisted by Claude Giroux (47) and Shayne Gostisbehere (33). From there, the rest of the 1st period which though to be a period where the Flyers weren’t going to let off the gas pedal was riddled with questionable calls and non-calls for both sides. The first period ended with the Flyers leading 1-0 and out shooting the Devils 13-8.
The 2nd period is where things got real interesting and two words can be used to describe it, goals and penalties. This period started as most Flyers’ periods of late have started…with an opposing goal. Taylor Hall was able to net his 22nd of the year as he was able to tie the game with the helper from Sami Vatanen (15). But then, just like typical Flyers fashion and 43 seconds later, Scott Laughton (9) was able to score and take back the lead for the Flyers with help from Michael Raffl (8) and Andrew MacDonald (9). As the period went on, so did the physical play and the penalties. Then at 10:36 as quickly as he got his 1st goal against the Golden Knights, Radko Gudas, was able to net his second of the year on a slap shot from the point. Now, the assists were given to Valtteri Filppula (14) and Dale Weise (3) but, it was The Devils’ own Blake Coleman who had the biggest assist of all by tipping Gudas’ shot into the net to make it 3-1. But again, the Devils were able to cut down The Flyers’ lead as John Moore scored his 7th of the year at 13:17 in the period with helpers from Travis Zajac (4) and Jesper Bratt (20). There was also a back and forth theme in the 2nd period as well. With 4 minutes left in the period captain Claude Giroux was able to get it back to a 2-goal lead, on the powerplay, scoring his 19th of the year with Jakub Voracek keeping his league lead in assists with 54 and Shayne Gostisbehere’s second assist of the night (34). Just to keep you all on the edge of your seats, only 10 seconds later the number 1 overall draft pick in this year’s draft, Nico Hischier scored his 10th of the year to get the score to 4-3 with Jesper Bratt getting his 2nd assist of the night. Hopefully you were all able to keep up with all the score changes because it was definitely an exciting yet frustrating period to watch as a Flyers fan. The 2nd period ended with the Flyers once again out shooting the Devils 13-12 with a 4-3 lead heading into the 3rd.
Going into the 3rd period with a 4-3 lead the numbers were on the Flyers’ side. When scoring first the Flyers are 15-5-3. When leading after 1 they are 8-1-2 and when leading after 2 they are 20-1-3. So, the third period is looking good for the Flyers, although there was some sloppy play and a few penalties taken; the Flyers were able to hold off the Devils for most of the 3rd period. Until, 18:39 in the period, the Devils were able to score with the goalie pulled. The goal scored by Taylor Hall (23), who had a scary collision after his 1st goal of the night, was able to come back and tie the game 4-4. This goal gave every player involved a multiple point night, with Travis Zajac (5) and Nico Hischier (24) getting the assists. Taylor Hall has been deadly vs the Flyers scoring points in 13 of 14 career games against the Flyers. The 3rd period came to an end shortly after with the Devils out shooting the Flyers, 12-7, bringing the game to overtime.
The Flyers, this year in OT were 4-4 and the Devils were 6-5 so the Devils were given the advantage there. The OT period saw the Devils control the puck for a majority of the period until the Flyers were able to gain control towards the end but, the OT period would not be enough. The shots were in favor of the Devils 3-2, for a game total of 36-35; Devils. After the game could not be decided in regulation or OT it brought the dreaded shootout. The Flyers were able to get their first shootout on Saturday vs the Coyotes. The Flyers were 1-4 in the shootout and the Devils were a little more successful with a record of 3-4, where the Flyers elected to shoot first. The shooters and results for the Flyers were as followed:
- Jordan Weal- MISS
- Travis Konecny- MISS
- Jakub Voracek- MISS
The Devils’ shooters and results were as followed:
- Kyle Palmieri- MISS
- Drew Stafford- GOAL
With Drew Stafford scoring in the shootout and all three Flyers’ players missing, the Devils did not need their 3rd shooter as they won the game 5-4 (SO). This was an important game to win for the Flyers as they would have a 5-point lead over the Flyers for the 3rd overall spot in the Metropolitan Division. Instead, because it was a shootout loss they managed to get a point and were able to keep a 2-point lead instead of a 1-point lead. The Flyers now look to gain ground on the 1st and 2nd place spots in the division as they are 2-points behind the Penguins and 5-points behind the Capitals. The Flyers look to get back on the winning track on Friday as they play in another important division game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. This is their 2 out of 4 meetings between the two teams. The 1st game resulted in a 2-1 shootout loss on December 23rd. Stay tuned for more Flyers and NHL recaps. Thanks for reading!
Lead NHL and Philadelphia Flyers Content Contributor