The Philadelphia Flyers took on the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night at Prudential Center in the third of four consecutive matchups between the two rivals. The Devils bested the Flyers in Newark on Tuesday and were looking to do the same this night
Unfortunately that was indeed the case as the Devils won 5-3 and with the loss, coupled with Boston’s 5-2 victory over Buffalo, the Philadelphia Flyers are officially eliminated from postseason contention this season.
As was the case on Tuesday, there wasn’t much offense in the very beginning of the game. The Devils recorded two of the game’s first three shots on goal before the first penalty was called with 13:20 to play.
Wade Allison was sent to the penalty box for hooking New Jersey’s Janne Kuokkanen, and the Devils would look to continue their recent power play success against the Flyers after going 2-for-2 on man advantages Tuesday.
The Flyers’ lackluster penalty kill, which ranks 30th in the league, was beaten yet again with 30 seconds remaining in Allison’s penalty. Will Butcher dished the puck to Yegor Sharangovich and the Devils rookie snapped a clean shot from the right faceoff dot that somehow squeaked through Alex Lyon’s arm and in to give the Devils an early 1-0 lead.
With 9:49 to play, Philadelphia would be shorthanded again as Scott Laughton flipped the puck over the glass and was assessed a delay of game penalty. The Flyers would live to tell about this one and killed off Laughton’s minor despite some extensive zone time by the Devils.
Just under four minutes later, the Flyers would again have to ice their penalty kill unit after Phil Myers was called for slashing against Jack Hughes. This time the Devils would make no mistake and it was Sharangovich again on the spot. The 22 year-old Belarus native was spotted across the ice by Damon Severson and Severson ripped a beautiful pass over to Sharangovich. Sharangovich immediately went from forehand to backhand and fooled Lyon again to make it 2-0 on his second power play tally of the period with 4:32 remaining in the frame.
The period would end shortly after with the Devils leading 2-0 and also holding a 9-3 advantage in shots over the Flyers as well. Philadelphia spent way too much time trying to kill penalties and defending and it cost them dearly in the first twenty minutes of the game.
Philadelphia would come out for the second period with some better energy that was highlighted by Joel Farabee’s third NHL fight. Farabee went after Connor Carrick after the Flyers felt that Carrick was overstepping some boundaries against them in the game. The two went at it just 5:54 into the frame before the officials stepped in to break it up.
23 seconds after Farabee and Carrick were finished with their scrap, the Devils would get yet another power play opportunity after Ivan Provorov was whistled for tripping against Sharangovich. But this time, the Flyers’ penalty killing fortunes would change.
After Ty Smith could not corral the puck at the Philadelphia blueline, partially because of the linesman, Scott Laughton snatched the loose puck and raced down the ice on Mackenzie Blackwood. Laughton put on a dazzling move against the New Jersey netminder and shot the puck upstairs to cut the Devils’ lead to 2-1 57 seconds into the kill.
This was also the Flyers’ first shorthanded goal all season and it couldn’t have happened at a better time for Laughton, who ended a 25-game goalless drought with his eighth tally of the season.
The Devils would not take very long to respond as Jesper Boqvist restored the home team’s two-goal lead just 1:46 after Laughton’s goal. Boqvist, who moments earlier rang iron on a previous shot, was able to rifle home a one-timer from the high slot after a nice feed from Nick Merkley to make it 3-1 Devils.
Philadelphia decided to come up with a response of their own just 3:17 later thanks to Sean Couturier. Justin Braun received a centering attempt from Couturier at the right point, and Braun fired the puck back at Couturier’s stick for a nifty backdoor goal past Blackwood to make it a 3-2 game.
The Flyers had some more opportunities in the period but could not capitalize, and New Jersey would maintain their 3-2 lead as the second intermission began. Philadelphia had a much better period despite allowing two more goals, as they scored two of their own and outshot the Devils 11-5 in the frame.
The third period began with both teams getting their chances but Lyon and Blackwood stood tall for their respective clubs. Blackwood was the busier of the two netminders and made some real key saves in the first half of the final frame.
New Jersey would finally end the third period stalemate with 6:45 to play. Pavel Zacha burst into the zone and was able to dance around Braun, and was able to shoot the puck by the spectating Travis Sanheim. He beat Lyon short side to the blocker to make it 4-2 in favor of the Devils.
With Lyon pulled early, Philadelphia tried to mount another comeback attempt but did not succeed. Jesper Bratt would shoot one into the empty net with 4:07 to play in the period to all but seal the deal for the Devils.
Travis Konecny would net his 10th goal of the year with 2:50 to play while on the power play, but that was all the gas the Flyers had left in the tank. They ultimately wilted again in inopportune moments and subsequently lost in a game where they allowed the first goal and played from behind the entire time. The Flyers would ultimately fall 5-3 in this one.
- None – There is nothing positive to take away from this game. Scott Laughton and Travis Konecny ending some goalless droughts aren’t important. Sean Couturier stayed hot, but again it meant nothing in this one. Egor Zamula played well, but it was a lost cause regardless. There is nothing positive about another game that they didn’t show up for and got eliminated from playoff contention on top of it. They have constantly underachieved game after game and tonight was just the icing on the cake. Yeah, they didn’t have a realistic shot at the playoffs after the abysmal last two months we’ve suffered through, but any hope that fans may have had left finally died and I’m just absolutely enraged at how dry and mediocre the Flyers were this year. With all the expectations they came into this year with, this was by far and away the most disappointing season in the franchise’s 53-year history.
- The Remaining Schedule – We have to sit through six more games of this against New Jersey, Pittsburgh, and Washington.
The Flyers play host to the Devils on Saturday night in Philadelphia at Wells Fargo Center to end this four-game monstrosity. There’s nothing left to play for besides pride and seeing what we can do to fix the team for next year. Yeah, there’s always next year, right?