Talking Red

Game 27: Flyers’ Cure Devils’ Scoring Woes

Posted in on by Dan Pennucci

Apparently, it just takes Ilya Bryzgalov and the Flyers to cure any offensive ills the Devils are enduring.

The Devils have had slight difficulty scoring goals the last 11 games, netting more than two goals in just a handful of contests while notching just two wins. New Jersey blitzed rival Philadelphia 5-2 on Wednesday thanks to a prolific power play, an Ilya Kovalchuk shorthanded goal and an aggressive forecheck that made the game look like a replay of last Spring’s playoff rout. After losing six straight games, the Devils have won three of their last four contests and face Philadelphia again on Friday evening at the Wells Fargo Center.

Patrik Elias staked the Devils to a 1-0 lead early in the game after the Devils forced a Philadelphia turnover behind their own goal before Philly knotted up the game on a Jakob Voracek power play goal from a leg-on-leg hit that Ryan Carter could get the attention of league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. (although the Flyers’ Zac Rinaldo did fly through the air like a Wallenda when he was hit by Carter’s leg.) The score was tied for 36 seconds.

Adam Henrique scored his first of what would be two goals on the evening as the Devils created another odd man rush and fired a puck at goal that ricocheted off Matt Read and into the goal. Kovalchuk added his shorthanded tally late in the first period snapping a shot high to the short side of Ilya Bryzgalov to give the Devils a 3-1 lead into intermission and a legitimate claim to owning the better of the play.

While the Flyers made several attempts to get back into the game, the Devils were able to keep them on their heels throughout the evening, oftentimes exposing the lack of foot speed on Philadelphia’s defense and ability to handle the puck in their own zone. Philadelphia was caught up ice on the Devils third goal when Alexei Ponikarovsky chipped the puck off the glass to Andrei Loktionov, creating yet another odd-man rush where the skilled forward pulled a toe-drag around a sliding Braydon Coburn before a low finish to the stick side of Ilya Bryzgalov.

The Devils added their final tally early in the third period on a pretty display of passing on the power play finished off by Henrique with a backhand over Bryzgalov’s glove side. The Flyers stepped up their typically aggressive and chippy play spurred on by Scott Hartnell mostly. The Devils have been able to resist most of the Flyers’ antagonistic style over the last year, unlike Pittsburgh, and find a way to capitalize on their scoring chances against Bryzgalov. Hartnell was laid low by Tom Kostopoulos during the third period on a clean hit before he scurried to the ref and complained about it. Both players were given unsportsmanlike penalties but Hartnell received an extra two minutes for slashing.

Johan Hedberg won his third game in four contests, turning aside all but two of the 25 shots he faced in the contest but none was bigger than robbing Simon Gagne early in the game with the Devils holding a scant 1-0 lead.

Notes:
-Adam Henrique posted three points in the victory, scoring his eighth and ninth goals of the season.

-The Devils lead the NHL in shorthanded goals with eight.

-Patrik Elias was boarded by Hartnell in the third period, but played after the shady hit.

-Flyers’ goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov told the media that if the Flyers did not win both of the games against the Devils, they “are done” in their quest to make the playoffs, as he feels they would be too far behind in the standings.

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