Thanks to a huge third period, the Flyers turned a six-goal deficit after two periods into a 6-4 loss at home to the New Jersey Devils this afternoon. Alexei Ponikarovsky recorded his 300th NHL point with an assist in the first period before he put home the game-winner less than two minutes into the second period for his second two-point game as a Devil. Kurtis Foster had two goals and an assist for his first three-point performance since December 29th, 2006, while Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and two assists in addition to a decision over Brayden Schenn in a third period scrap in the win.
The fact the Flyers took way too many penalties early, and the fact a non-call led to a crucial goal in the game, helped in the Flyers’ demise today. The Devils scored three power-play goals today and deposited a shorthanded goal for four special teams’ tallies in the victory that nearly got away.
“We have to look at specialty teams and see what we can do better,” Peter Laviolette said after the game.
The Flyers also had seven power plays, but five of them came after the Devils already had the 6-0 advantage. Claude Giroux’s tally on the power play gives the Flyers at least one power-play goal in each of their last six games.
Sergei Bobrovsky allowed six goals in 28:22 of work tonight before Ilya Bryzgalov came in to save all eight shots he saw to help the Flyers in their late-game dominance.
Early in the game, the Flyers found themselves down by two men.
After Marc-Andre Bourdon slashed Dainius Zubrus in the Flyers’ zone, Kimmo Timonen boarded Zach Parise in the same corner of the ice to give the Devils a two-man advantage for one minute.
The Devils’ capitalized, as Foster one-timed a Patrik Elias cross-ice pass to beat Bobrovsky’s blocker.
Minutes later, Eric Boulton tripped Wayne Simmonds in the neutral zone before the teams met along the boards for a scrum.
After the Flyers failed to convert on their first power play of the game, the teams were involved in another scrum. Following a Bobrovsky cover-up, players pushed and shoved one another in Bobrovsky’s crease.
Shortly after the scrum in Bobrovsky’s crease, Braydon Coburn earned the Flyers’ third minor of the night with a hooking penalty on David Clarkson in the defensive zone.
Later in the physical first period, Mark Fayne pushed Scott Hartnell, who was without the puck, when he was off balance to send the Flyers’ forward flying through the air for an interference minor.
With Fayne in the box, the Devils deposited a shorthanded goal due to a horrible non-call.
As Giroux held on to the puck at the point, Zubrus blatantly tripped him to start a 2-on-1 with Kovalchuk. He dished the puck to Kovalchuk in the neutral zone, who ripped a wrister from the circles past Bobrovsky for his 21st goal of the season with only 57 seconds left in the first period.
“I’m pretty sure it’s a penalty,” Giroux said. “It killed the momentum.”
The refs needed to grab Giroux and seperate him from the Devils before they explained to Laviolette why there wasn’t a penalty called for the obvious tripping.
The Devils weren’t done, as Zubrus potted the third goal for New Jersey in the first period with under a second left.
The Flyers’ anger grew, as Hartnell was held by a ref to prevent a fight after Zubrus’ goal and Simmonds talked trash with Anton Volchenkov before the teams went to the locker room for the conclusion of the first period.
The Devils out shot Philly 17-7, as both teams had 15 hits in an intense first period.
To start the second period, the Devils, on their fourth power play of the game, scored their second power-play goal to gain a 4-0 lead.
Hartnell earned himself a high-sticking minor after Zubrus’ goal in the first period to put the Flyers down a man. On the power play in the middle period, Parise went from the corner threw the slot before he wrapped a shot behind the sprawled Bobrovsky’s leg for his 19th tally of the season 38 seconds into the period.
New Jersey wasn’t happy with just a four-goal lead, as Ponikarovsky deposited his ninth of the season 59 seconds later. It was the Devils’ third goal in a 1:38 span between the first and second period.
Minutes later, another scrum in the crease after the whistle led to yet another Devils’ power play. This time the scrum took place in Johan Hedberg’s crease and the penalty was to Tom Sestito for roughing.
Thanks to a Coburn cross-checking minor 11 seconds after Sestito’s minor, the Devils were able to capitalize on another lengthy two-man advantage to further the Flyers’ deficit. Foster’s one-timer from the point off an Elias pass in the corner beat Bob’s glove for the Devils’ sixth goal.
With this goal, Bobrovsky’s day was done. Allowing six goals on 23 shots, Bobrovsky was pulled for the second time this season, his first being the Flyers’ crazy 9-8 loss to the Winnipeg Jets earlier in the season where he allowed five goals on 15 shots.
With another power-play goal, Foster had himself a two-goal game 8:22 into the middle period.
After a failed power play of their own, the Flyers gave the Devils another power play after Zac Rinaldo trucked Jacob Josefson at center ice. The hit was clean, but Josefson had let go of the puck seconds earlier, as Rinaldo went to the box for interference.
The Flyers’ play started to get better towards the end of the second period, but they failed to register a single goal, as they headed into the final 20 minutes down by six goals.
Philly entered the third period with 1:40 left on their power play thanks to a Boulton hooking minor late in the second period. The Flyers were out shot 30-17 after the first 40 minutes, as well as had seven more giveaways than the Devils and had 10 less blocked shots. The Devils also converted on three of their seven power-play chances, while the Flyers were stopped on all four of their chances.
Although they didn’t convert on the latter part of the power play that started the third period, Philly did manage to break up Hedberg’s shutout early in the third period.
After having a backhanded shot denied by Hedberg’s sprawled left leg pad, Simmonds batted the puck in for his third goal in two games 3:58 into the third period.
Minutes later, Jaromir Jagr put home a rebound off a Matt Carle shot from the point to cut the deficit to four goals.
Hedberg blocked Carle’s shot towards the right faceoff circle, where Jagr backhanded a bouncing puck past the Devils’ goalie for his 13th goal of the season to end his 10-game goal drought.
Minutes later, after Rinaldo dropped Parise to the ice after a whistle, the teams gathered for yet another scrum. This one, however, resulted in Kovalchuk fighting Schenn. The Devils’ forward landed a good right hook to Schenn to end the bout.
Neither team gained a power play from the mix-up, but Ponikarovsky slashed Andrej Meszaros at center ice seconds later to send the Flyers to the power play, where they scored to cut the deficit to three goals.
Giroux one-timed a Jagr pass from the slot to beat Hedberg high and blocker-side for his 20th goal of the season.
Jakub Voracek, just 51 seconds later, put home his ninth of the season to make it a two-goal game.
Carle created another shot Hedberg couldn’t handle, as the Devils’ goalie knocked the puck to his right again. Already in the splits, Hedberg left Voracek with a wide open net for the tally and the Flyers’ fourth goal of the period.
Despite their amazing four-goal surge, pulling Bryzgalov with over two minutes left, and receiving another power play chance with less than a minute left, the Flyers ran out of time and lost the game 6-4.
The Flyers will carry the momentum of their gigantic third period into tomorrow’s game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Notes: This is the second time all season the Flyers have entered the second period trailing by three goals or more (trailed 4-0 against the Boston Bruins on December 17th, lost 6-0)…This is the third game all season Coburn has recorded two minor penalties. New Jersey didn’t score on either of the power plays Coburn gave them, but his second minor led to the Devils’ 5-on-3 in the second period…Kovalchuk’s shorthanded goal in the first period was the Devils’ 12th shorthanded goal of the season. They’re first in the league in shorthanded goals…Foster had his first two-goal game since November 27th, 2009, when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning….Ponikarovsky’s secondary assist on Zubrus’ goal in the first period was his 300th point in the NHL…Adam Henrique (groin) and Adam Larsson (bruised lower back) didn’t play today…The Flyers dropped to 2-1-1 against the Devils and to 6-5-1 (NYR 0-3-0, PIT 2-0-0, NJD 2-1-1, NYI 2-1-0) against the Atlantic Division this season…The Flyers dropped to 30-15-6 plus tonight. They were 33-13-5 after 51 games last season.