The Flyers were able to hang on to a 3-2 lead late in Wednesday’s game despite playing poorly, but tonight was a different story against the New Jersey Devils.
Giving up the tying-goal with just 6:35 left in regulation, the Flyers let a point slip away to New Jersey as they lost to their division rival tonight 4-3 in a shootout at the Wells Fargo Center. Adam Henrique had a goal and an assist for the Devils, while Johan Hedberg posted 20 saves in regulation as well as a save in the shootout. This was the first time the Flyers reached the shootout this year and it’s their first shootout loss since their 3-2 loss to the Rangers in Philly on April 3.
Unlike in Buffalo, the Flyers were never really in control despite playing host. Outshot 39-23, including 21-9 in the second period, the Flyers had spurts in the game where they held on to the puck in the Devils’ zone, but were otherwise outplayed altogether. Turnovers in the defensive zone and difficulty getting pucks to the net in the offensive zone resulted in the only one point for the Orange and Black tonight.
After a scoreless first period, Zac Rinaldo opened the scoring 2:28 into the second period cashing in on a strong play by Sean Couturier. Breaking up a play behind the Devils’ net, Couturier dished the puck to Rinaldo in front, and he rifled the puck past a defender and through Hedberg for his first NHL goal.
Not even six minutes later, a wonderful puck handling play by Jaromir Jagr resulted in a Flyers’ two-goal lead halfway through the game. Taking the puck into the offensive zone from his own end, Jagr made his way through the Devils’ defense before skating around the net from left to right and feeding the puck cross ice to Claude Giroux. Slamming the puck home past an out of position Hedberg, Giroux had his eighth goal of the season while Jagr notched his eighth assist.
Needing to answer quickly before the Flyers struck again, Zach Parise whacked in a goal from the bottom of the circles on a broken play to cut the Devils’ deficit to one goal. While the puck bounced around the skates of several Flyers and Devils near the bottom of the circle to Sergei Bobrovsky’s right, Parise managed to hit it with a forceful backhand surprising the Philly netminder for his fifth goal of the season.
Tying the game just minutes later, Henrique capitalized on the Devils’ wave of momentum for his first NHL goal. An Andrej Meszaros’ pass in the Flyers’ defensive zone befuddled Andreas Lilja striking his skate and bouncing directly to Ilya Kovalchuk, who then dished it to Henrique for the score off a 2-on-1 break.
With the game tied at two early in the third period, Max Talbot electrified a somnolent crowd and gave the home team a lead once more.
As his block on a slapshot during a Flyers’ penalty kill resulted in the puck traveling to the neutral zone, Talbot chased it down and went in alone on Hedberg for a breakaway. Taken down from behind by an onrushing Mark Fayne, Talbot was awarded his second career penalty shot. Slowly skating in from center ice, Talbot gradually moved right to left before edging over just far enough to the side to rip a wrister past Hedberg just before the three-minute mark.
With just minutes left in regulation, Matt Carle failed to clear the defensive zone essentially providing the secondary assist on David Clarkson’s game-tying goal. Patrik Elias picked off Carle’s attempt to clear the zone at the blue line and nudged the puck to Clarkson, who let go of a quick backhander. Squeaking its way between Bob’s glove and left leg pad, Clarkson had his fourth goal of the season and the game was knotted, 3-3.
Ending regulation in a tie, both the Flyers and Devils failed to score in overtime resulting in a shootout. Although the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds was first to shoot, Parise was the first to score on a rather generic attempt to give the Devils the 1-0 advantage.
Danny Briere tied the score at one with a controversial goal. With Hedberg charging towards him, the Devils complained that Briere stopped before skating laterally and putting the puck home. As always happens, the officials conferred with Toronto, and after a brief delay the goal stood.
After Petr Sykora was denied and Giroux fumbled the puck, Elias dribbled the puck past Bob after his breakaway move to barely give the Devils a 4-3 win.
Defense, by both the defenseman and forwards, hurt the Flyers tonight. There were stretches in tonight’s game where the Flyers just couldn’t get the puck out of the zone. In addition to that, the Devils’ last two goals in regulation were purely generated due to poor pass distributions and receptions in their own defensive zone.
Bobrovsky should have made the save on Clarkson late in the game, but you can’t really blame that goal on him. The puck should have been out of the zone and up ice if it had not been for the lazy outlet pass from Carle.
The Flyers did play in Buffalo last night, but they should have had more energy in tonight’s game than they displayed. The Devils out shot the Flyers by 16 tonight and were chasing Flyers all over the ice despite playing in Jersey last night. Philly is going to be playing a lot of games on back-to-back nights, so if the Flyers want to keep presenting lackluster efforts similar to the one they displayed tonight, Flyers’ fans can kiss a lot of possible points goodbye this season.
Notes: The Flyers fell to 3-3-2 at home this season…Jagr has a six-game point streak (5 goals, 4 assists), Giroux has a five-game point streak (3 goals, 4 assists), and Lilja has points in back-to-back games (2 assists) — marking the first time he’s gotten points in back-to-back games since December of 2008…This is the second time this season the Flyers have blown a lead in the third period (7-6 lead against the Jets last Thursday)…Talbot’s penalty shot goal was the Flyers’ first successful attempt since Darroll Powe’s goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning on February 11…The Flyers have been awarded 51 penalty shots and they’ve scored on 20 of them…Clarkson had a game-high nine shots.