The New Jersey Devils have not been kind to the Philadelphia Flyers. Not only did they shutout the Flyers in the team’s only meeting this year, but they also knocked them out in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The rivalry was at its peak during the playoffs last season when the Devils completely shut down the Flyers offence and sent the men in orange on a downward spiral of frustration. Nothing went right for the Flyers in that series and much credit must be given to New Jersey. The Flyers and Devils renewed their rivalry on Friday when the teams faced off at the Prudential Centre in New Jersey. The Devils came in to this game sitting first in the Eastern Conference while the Flyers were in 10th. Nobody expected New Jersey to do this well considering the off-season loss of captain Zach Parise but they continue to battle and defy the odds. Philadelphia was coming off a 3-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets and players like Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek had really started to elevate their game. Rookie Tye McGinn scored the game winning goal against the Jets and is showing signs of a very promising career. The Flyers also got youngster Sean Couturier back into the line-up against the Devils after he missed the past two games with the flu.
It would not take long for the Devils to strike against the Flyers. It would just take 40 seconds for forward Travis Zajac to take a pass from Ilya Kovalchuk and beat Bryzgalov under the arm. It was Zajac’s third goal of the season and it was looking like it would be another long night for the Broad Street Bullies. This wasn’t the case though as the Flyers would respond about eight minutes later when they got a power-play opportunity. Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky got called for holding against Ruslan Fedotenko and that put the Flyer’s power-play to the test. The power-play looked lethal and they got rewarded for their efforts when Wayne Simmonds tucked one by Martin Brodeur. Brayden Schenn would get the puck to Simmonds who was parked in front of Brodeur. He would take the pass and go to the backhand to tuck the puck in between the legs of Brodeur. Veteran Mike Knuble would strike for the Flyers about two minutes later when he beat Brodeur with a wrist shot from the high slot. It was his second goal of the season and it gave the team a 2-1 lead. Devils coach Peter DeBoer decided to call a timeout after the goal to try and settle down his team. It didn’t seem to work as the Flyers would score again under just a minute later. Philly would capitalise on a sloppy turnover by the Devils to increase their lead to two. Claude Giroux would center to a wide open Matt Read in the slot. Read utilized his wicked wrist shot to pot his team leading 6th goal of the season. Claude Giroux would get his second point of the night on the goal. The Flyers would go into the intermission with an 11-7 lead in the shot department.
It took 40 seconds for the Devils to score in the first period and in the second period, it was even less. Just 26 seconds into the second frame, the New Jersey Devils would cut the lead to one. Goaltender Martin Brodeur would shoot the puck up the ice to Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk was skating on a line with Zajac as well as the newly acquired Alexei Ponikarovsky. Kovalchuk got the puck over to Ponikarovsky who took it down the wing and snapped it by Bryzgalov. Ponikarovsky had seven goals and 18 points in 33 regular-season games for the Devils in 2011-12 and was acquired from the Jets on Wednesday in exchange for a 2013 seventh-round draft pick and a 2014 fourth-round choice. He got slotted onto the first line due to a wrist injury to Dainius Zubrus.The Devils would even the score by the end of the period. They would capitalize on a poor turnover by Flyer’s defenseman Kimmo Timonen. Kovalchuk would center to Patrick Elias who would beat Bryz down low with a wrist shot. It was Kovalchuk’s third point on the night as he continued his success against the Flyers.The teams would head in to the intermission tied at 3.
There wouldn’t be any goals to kick start the third period. It took over 10 minutes for one of the teams to strike in the final frame. After a Matt Read clearing attempt got blocked by Devils defenseman Adam Larsson, the young Devil put the puck on net where the red hot David Clarkson redirected it by Bryzgalov. The Devils went up 4-3 against the Flyers. It was a perfect shot by Larsson and Clarkson’s goal was his 10th of the year. The Flyers failed to tie it up and Steve Bernier would add an empty netter for the Devils to ensure victory. The Devils would win 5-3. The Flyers are right back at it on Saturday when they face the Montreal Canadians.
- After a slow start to the season, Brayden Schenn now has 6 points in his last 6 games. He is playing with alot more flair and was used on the top power-play unit against the Devils. He assisted on Simmonds power-play tally.
- Matt Read is not disappointing Flyers fans. He scored his team leading 6th goal of the year on Friday and is now on the top line. This guy is just money in the bank for the team and his wrist shot is perfection at it’s finest. The undrafted right winger got signed by Philly in 2011 after playing four seasons of collegiate hockey with Bemidji State University.
- Top defenseman Kimmo Timonen suffered a lower body injury in the second period and did not return for the rest of the game. The Flyers are unsure how serious the injury is but it is being reported that Timonen is day-to-day.