In a game that reminded you of the inconsistencies of last year’s Philly team, The Flyers dropped a 3-1 loss to the Devils at home on Saturday.
A two-goal effort by Patrik Elias and another strong performance from Johan Hedberg allowed New Jersey to beat the team at the top of their division. Bad decisions, getting outworked, and possibly looking forward to tomorrow’s rematch against Chicago could be some excuses as to why the Flyers played so poorly today. The loss drops the Flyers to 31-12-5 on the year and 3-1-1 against New Jersey this season.
After killing off a holding call a little over a minute into the game, the Devils found the scoresheet first on a Henrik Tallinder shot from the point. An Adam Mair shot that was blocked by Brian Boucher and company in front bounced to Tallinder who blasted a shot that Boucher never saw. Tallinder’s second goal on the year gave New Jersey a 1-0 lead.
The Devils weren’t done for the period as they enlarged their lead to two seven minutes later. Elias stopped a Mark Fayne wrap around the boards and took the puck to the front of the net. The puck found a way to squeak by a leaky Boucher who was attempting to hug the left post. The soft goal gave the Devils a 2-0 lead with just under eight minutes to play in the first period.
The remaining time left in the 1st period saw several scoring chances by the Devils that the Flyers would not answer. Boucher kept the Flyers in the game early as he saved eight of the ten shots he saw in the 1st period.
The second period saw a better effort from Philadelphia, but it still wasn’t the Flyers team that currently sits first in the Eastern Conference. Multiple minor penalties held the Flyers up in their attempt to tie the game. A high-sticking call on Claude Giroux three minutes into the period, a Chris Pronger slash nine minutes into the period, and a Scott Hartnell roughing with six minutes left in the period kept Philly from putting a constant string of pressure on Hedberg.
Despite their horrible play in the 1st and a penalty stricken second, the Flyers still found themselves in a position to save the game.
With just 20 seconds left in the period, James van Riemsdyk would nudge the puck past Hedberg to cut the lead to one entering the final period. A beautiful backhanded pass from Richards at the Flyers’ blueline led to Giroux possessing the puck just inside the offensive zone. From there, Giroux switched the puck from his backhand to his forehand back to his backhand before lofting a pass to JVR in the slot who would tip the puck past Hedberg. The goal was van Riemsdyk’s 12th on the year.
The Flyers were still under performing as the third period rolled around, but several minutes of offensive pressure and the ability to stay out of the penalty box led to a Flyers’ threat to tie up the game.
Outshooting the Devils 12-6 in the third period, the Flyers were on the verge of tying up the game until a late penalty by Giroux. With just over two minutes left, Giroux would go to the box for cross checking and leave his team in a tough position.
In a final push to tie the game, Laviolette would pull Boucher. Unfortunately, Rolston would hand an outlet pass from the defensive zone right to Elias who skated into the Flyers’ zone and slammed the puck home on the open net making it 3-1. The remaining forty-two seconds bled away and the Flyers would see their four game winning streak snapped.
The Flyers made too many poor decisions today to expect a win. Several turnovers in the defensive zone led to numerous New Jersey chances. If it wasn’t for Boucher’s ability to bail out his teammates, the lead could have easily been three or four nothing entering the second period.
On the offensive side of things, nobody on the Flyers wanted to shoot today. Too many times were there one too many passes made on a rush or odd man opportunity where a good scoring chance resulted in a broken up pass.
Hartnell and Giroux both took stupid penalties today. Hartnell’s roughing on Sestito came after the play and was completely unnecessary. Giroux’s cross checking on Elias came with just over two minutes left in the game and pretty much sealed the deal for the Devils. It could have very easily not been called, but Giroux should know better than to cross check a player into the boards with the ref right there. The game was on the line and the Flyers had been putting pressure on Hedberg for ten minutes. The penalty essentially killed the momentum and any chance the Flyers had of tying the game.
Notes: This was the Devils first win in Philadelphia since their 3-2 overtime win on December 4, 2008…Johan Hedberg has racked up 7 games allowing one goal or less this season and 2 have come against Philly…Giroux was the only Flyers layer who was a plus today…Nobody on New Jersey was a negative…The Flyers fell to 12-2-1 against the Atlantic division this season (PIT 3-1-0, NYR 3-0-0, NYI 3-0-0, NJD 3-1-1).