The Philadelphia Flyers, fresh off a shootout win over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday, faced the lowly Devils again. This time in Newark as a part of the second of a four-game set between the two clubs. The Devils would exact their revenge and win 6-4 over the Flyers at Prudential Center on Tuesday night.
There was not a lot of offense to be found as the first period began. As a matter of fact, each team only had one shot on goal through the first ten minutes of the period. It was a very uneventful start to the game and tonight was shaping up to be a very defensive battle.
The Flyers would earn their first power play with 14:49 to play in the period after Michael McLeod high-sticked Sean Couturier on a faceoff in the neutral zone. It was originally a regular two-minute minor, but after a review the officials gave McLeod a double-minor for drawing blood from Couturier’s mouth. That was much to the chagrin of Devils head coach Lindy Ruff as he had to send out his league-worst penalty kill unit for four minutes.
Philadelphia moved the puck around well at times but they couldn’t fire a single puck on net as Mackenzie Blackwood was a very unbusy goaltender while his team was on the penalty kill. The Devils seemingly killed McLeod’s penalty off with ease.
New Jersey would try to build some momentum after their penalty kill and were outshooting and outchancing the Flyers by a good margin before they headed to their first power play of the night. Nolan Patrick was called for holding against Connor Carrick with 2:15 to go in the opening frame. The Devils iced a power play that, coming into this game, was 1-for-12 against Philadelphia this season.
Exactly one minute after the power play begin, Devils captain Nico Hischier made the Flyers pay. A Jack Hughes shot was blocked in front by Robert Hagg. As Brian Elliott went down trying to track the shot, Hischier picked the puck up and fired it over the sprawling Elliott and into the net to give the Devils a 1-0 lead.
1-0 is how the first period would end. New Jersey outshot the Flyers 9-3 and had dominated much of the latter half of the frame. Philadelphia would need to come out of the locker room with more pep in their step if they wanted to hang tough with their rivals in this edition of The Battle of the Turnpike.
There was some excitement to kick off the second period as Travis Sanheim would drop the gloves with McLeod just 37 seconds into the period. McLeod delivered a hard check on Couturier near the end boards and Sanheim took major objection to it. He wound up taking an extra minor penalty for roughing for his effort to stick up for his teammate.
Just 2:20 into the frame, New Jersey would take a 2-0 lead thanks to Pavel Zacha on the man advantage. Hughes skated up the left boards and spotted the open Zacha in the slot. The Devils forward one-timed a shot by Elliott to extend the lead with Sanheim in the box.
Not even three minutes later, Miles Wood would shoot the puck from the point into traffic, but it was blocked and Justin Braun tried to clear it away. Braun could only shoot the puck as far as the top of the zone before Wood intercepted the clearing attempt and decided to shoot again. The second shot eluded the traffic in front as well as Elliott, and New Jersey took a 3-0 lead with 14:46 still to play in the period.
Despite the deficit, the Flyers kept on fighting and just 15 seconds after Wood’s goal, Philadelphia responded with a goal of their own. After a brief scramble behind the net, Jackson Cates tried to send the puck in front but it deflected off the side of the cage over to Oskar Lindblom. He fired a shot at Blackwood who fought off the sharp-angle shot, which bounced over to Nolan Patrick.
Patrick fired the puck through a sea of bodies at Blackwood again, and Cates was able to poke the rebound back to Lindblom. He then took several whacks at the puck and it finally crossed the goal line behind Blackwood to get Philadelphia on the board and make it 3-1.
The Flyers continued to apply pressure against the Devils as the period wore on, but could not find the scoreboard again despite outshooting New Jersey 15-9 in the middle stanza. The quick response after the Devils’ third goal by Lindblom really seemed to wake the Flyers up and things would still continue to trend in the right direction for them in the third period.
Just 2:24 into the third, Phil Myers ended a 44-game goalless drought after a brutal turnover by Jack Hughes found Myers in the high slot. The big Flyers defenseman snapped home a great shot by the blocker of Blackwood to cut the Devils’ lead to 3-2.
Philadelphia still was not done yet, as just 1:10 after Myers’ goal, Claude Giroux decided to join the party and get on the board. Hagg dished the puck to Couturier in the left corner, and the reigning Selke Trophy winner spotted the unguarded Giroux in the faceoff circle. Giroux skated in untouched on Blackwood and used those nifty hands of his to beat the Devils netminder through the five-hole to even the score at three goals apiece.
With 11:56 to play, New Jersey would pull back ahead after a Carrick wrist shot fooled Ellliott. Carrick skated in from the neutral zone, chipped the puck past Myers along the right boards and stunned Elliott with a quick release from the bottom of the hashmarks inside the right faceoff circle. Elliott seemed to be off his angle but it was a perfect shot for Carrick and the Devils, who now led 4-3.
The Flyers would not go away quietly however, as with 7:35 to play, Couturier surprised Blackwood with a snapshot from the left boards and it somehow found its way through the goaltender to tie the game at 4-4. Perhaps Blackwood could not fully track the puck through a brief moving screen by fellow Devil Will Butcher, but regardless, we were in another deadlock.
It didn’t take very long for the Devils to respond, as just 11 seconds after Couturier’s goal, Yegor Sharangovich stole the puck from behind the Flyers’ net and deposited it into the cage for a 5-4 lead. Elliott tried setting up the puck for Ivan Provorov but Sharangovich disrupted the play on top of a miscommunication between the two Flyers, which led to a scramble.
Janne Kuokkanen somehow got the puck and sent it over to Sharangovich, who had a wide-open net to wrap the puck around into as Elliott was late getting back into position.
The Flyers had plenty of chances to tie the game late, but Blackwood stood tall in the waning moments of the game and Philadelphia just ran out of gas at the end. Mikhail Maltsev, who had missed New Jersey’s previous four games, was able to put the game away with an empty-net goal with just two seconds left and to make it a 6-4 game.
6-4 is how the game would end, and it also signaled the end of the Devils’ 10-game losing streak. This is now the second time this year a team has ended a double-digit losing streak against the Flyers. This was another loss following a win, meaning that Philadelphia has not won back-to-back games since February 27th and February 28th, with both of these feats coming against the Buffalo Sabres.