The Philadelphia Flyers lost their third straight game tonight in a goalless, penalty-filled 3-0 effort to the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center. Martin Brodeur recorded a 24-save shutout, while Travis Zajac provided the game-winning goal just over a minute into the contest.
David Clarkson and Ilya Kovalchuk also scored for Jersey in the win, as the Flyers’ special teams hurt them yet again early in the 2013 campaign.
Not only did the Flyers’ power play go 0-for-6, they allowed a goal against while on the man advantage due to a short-handed penalty shot tally from Kovalchuk early in the second period.
The penalty kill only allowed one goal on seven New Jersey power plays, but that stat is misleading, as the lone power-play goal came on the Devils’ first man advantage when the game was 1-0. On top of that, most of the Devils’ power plays were later in the game, when there was little hope the Flyers would storm back, and were also shortened due to their own penalties.
Philly showcased their frustration tonight, for both the loss and their season so far, with several scrums and fights. It also came through in some undisciplined penalties, one of which hurt the Flyers at a costly time in tonight’s affair.
Despite their horrible special teams’ play and bad luck, Philly doesn’t think it’s time to panic yet. “The only thing we can do is keep working hard,” Max Talbot said after the tilt. “It would be easy to panic. It’s about work ethic. Yes, it’s three games and we don’t have a point but we need to keep working and battling.”
“It’s not time to panic, but we have to tighten the screws,” Flyers’ goalie Ilya Bryzgalov said after he had 23 saves on 26 shots from the Devils. “After the bad start we can’t keep losing games anymore because you will never get out from the bottom of the standings because you don’t have enough games.
For the third straight game the Flyers allowed the first goal. This time, it was Zajac on a rebound in front.
After Dainius Zubrus flew into the Flyers’ zone and around the boards, he threw a pass in the corner to Bryzgalov’s right to Bryce Salvador at the point. New Jersey’s captain launched a shot at the net that Bryzgalov kicked to his left, which Zajac jumped on quickly and buried before Philly’ goaltender had a chance to recover. Zajac’s second of 2013 came 1:07 into the contest.
Despite the Flyers domination of puck control for the majority of the first stanza, the deficit widened before the first intermission.
After Philadelphia failed to convert on two power plays in a span of 4:20 late in the first period, Braydon Coburn took an undisciplined penalty in the defensive zone, as he interfered with Kovalchuk behind Bryzgalov’s net. Kovalchuk then started the scoring play with a shot from the point that missed the net wide. On the scrum for the puck behind the net, Clarkson ran into Bryzgalov and knocked the stick away from the netminder. Clarkson then gained control of the puck at the side of the net and attempted a wrap-around shot, which hit Ruslan Fedotenko’s skate in the crease and redirected into the cage with just 25 seconds left in the frame. It was Jersey’s third shot of the period.
Unfortunately for the Orange and Black, the Devils added on to their lead in the middle stanza. After Philly started the second period with some offensive pressure, Matt Read drew a slashing penalty out of Marek Zidlicky 1:39 into the frame. On the man advantage, Kovalchuk was able to gain a breakaway that was broken up with a Kimmo Timonen hook, which resulted in a penalty shot. Kovy capitalized on the opportunity by faking a shot and going to his backhand before he roofed the puck past a sprawling Bryzgalov to make it 3-0 New Jersey 2:44 into the second period.
Then, the frustration from the game, and the season to this point, came to the surface for the Flyers. After Clarkson planted Timonen with an open-ice hit in the neutral zone, the trio of Luke Schenn, Jakub Voracek, and Scott Hartnell made their way over to the Devils’ pugilist to give him the business. After several players paired off with a member from the opposing team, the tandem of Voracek and Hartnell earned roughing minors for Philly, while Clarkson and Stefan Matteau did the same for Jersey.
A little over two minutes later, Brayden Schenn made his presence felt with a monstrous hit in the offensive zone on Anton Volchenkov, which led to a chance for him in front of Brodeur. After Brodeur covered the puck, Wayne Simmonds skated to the crease and knowingly pushed the Devils’ goalie.
“I didn’t hit him too hard,” Simmonds said after the loss. “I just gave him a little push that
I kind of thought he over exaggerated, and it worked.”
As a result of Simmonds’ actions, several Devils swarmed to him, which Simmonds responded to by taking a swing at Jacob Josefson before Ryan Carter made it 2-on-1 for Jersey. In addition to a handful of roughing minors, the Flyers had to kill off Simmonds’ goalie interference infraction.
Philly killed off Simmonds’ penalty, but they didn’t enjoy 5-on-5 action for too long. With just over four minutes left in the second frame, Tye McGinn served an abuse of the officials minor. Coburn joined McGinn in the sin bin 50 seconds later with a high-sticking minor on Clarkson in the Flyers’ zone to give New Jersey a 5-on-3 for 1:10.
Thanks to the effort of Sean Couturier, the Flyers were able to kill off the 5-on-3 and then the 5-on-4 before they concluded the period with extreme offensive pressure for the final 30 seconds.
The third period featured more penalties and rough stuff, which started with a Claude Giroux minor for abuse of the officials with 13:11 left in regulation. The Devils’ man advantage didn’t last long, as Clarkson was sent off for interference 46 seconds later.
Less than two minutes after Clarkson exited the box, Salvador and Talbot entered with coincidental roughing and slashing minors. A little over a minute after the pair made their way to the box, Giroux made his second trip to the sin bin in the period for a slash on Kovalchuk in the neutral zone.
Since the actions of Salvador and Talbot left both teams at 5-on-5 action, Giroux handed New Jersey a 5-on-4 power play before Nicklas Grossmann was sent off for a delay of game minor for flipping the puck into the stands. With both Giroux and Grossmann in the penalty box, New Jersey enjoyed their second 5-on-3 of the contest. This time, the two-man advantage was expected to last 1:52, but Zidlicky’s third minor of the game made it 4-on-3 just 18 seconds after Grossmann’s penalty.
After all the special teams’ play, the squads returned to 5-on-5 action, as the Devils inched their way to a victory and the Flyers headed to a 0-3-0 start to the season. In the final five minutes of the loss, Simmonds dropped the gloves with Clarkson and the younger Schenn fought Steve Bernier.
Philly looks to end their losing streak, and win their first game of the season, against the New York Rangers on Thursday. The Flyers were 0-6-0 against the Rangers last season.
Notes: Tonight was Brodeur’s 120th NHL shutout…The Flyers have lost five straight games to the Devils…McGinn had one shot on net and one hit in 12:13 for his first NHL game. He also saw some time on the power play…The Flyers have allowed the first goal in all three games this season…Philly has allowed a goal in seven of the nine periods they have played this season. They have been out scored 11-3 this year…Bruno Gervais had one shot on net and one hit in 12:44 for his first game with the Flyers…Kurtis Foster, Jody Shelley, and Tom Sestito were scratched for the Flyers tonight. Krystofer Barch, Peter Harrold, and Adam Larsson were scratched for New Jersey…Giroux was pointless for the first time since Game 3 of their series against the Devils last season in the ECSF. He had points in three straight games…Kovalchuk has registered at least one point a game in his last five against the Flyers. He has three goals and six assists in that span…The Flyers are 0-1-0 against the Devils this season and 0-2-0 against the rest of the Atlantic Division (PIT 0-1-0, NJD 0-1-0, NYI 0-0-0, NYR 0-0-0).